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Butternut Squash Bacon Pasta

Look what I made for you today! And it’s not dessert either…

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But it’s so good, you won’t mind the absence of chocolate or other sugary treat. I made it with our own organic squash that we grew in our garden. Well, “we,” meaning my husband ,who planted and watered and tended and harvested it. “We” grew two small butternut squash. Just two, but we celebrated our success just the same. And then it was time to make something wonderful with our two little squash.

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So I found a recipe that I haven’t made in a long time and I don’t know why, because it is over the top delicious and a perfect fall meal. It’s kind of an adult mac and cheese on fall steroids. It’s not too adult for kids unless your kids are die hard Kraft fans and won’t eat veggies. But the flavors are dreamy together…butternut squash, rosemary, bacon, shallots, cheese. Its creamy, cheesy, sweet and savory with a bit of crispiness to top it off.  And for an extra bonus,  it’s lightened up….but we’ll chat about that later.

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Let’s talk about butternut squash and what a pain it is to peel and chop up. I always think I’m going to lose a finger, but thankfully, the squash were on the petite side and fairly easy to handle. I usually peel the whole thing first, then cut the neck from the lower half, split them both and remove the seeds and pulp.   Then, I chop it up. If you don’t care for the adventure of doing all of that, almost every grocery store I shop has peeled and chopped butternut squash in the produce section. That’s what I buy when I’m not celebrating the fact that we grew our own (which is pretty much every other day that isn’t today.)

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This recipe has a few steps, but if you consider the fact that you’re getting your vegetables, starch, dairy and protein in one dish, it’s really not that bad. And when you taste it, you’ll know it was worth it. First,  you’re going to roast the squash until it’s tender and caramelized.

While the squash is roasting in the oven, you’ll start cooking the bacon, adding the shallots and start thinking about how good dinner is going to be. When the squash is finished roasting, add it to the bacon mixture.

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Next up is the pasta and cheese. This recipe is lightened up by making a béchamel (white sauce) with only reduced fat milk and flour. Normally, you would use butter as well, but this works great without it. The cheeses are sharp which lends lots of flavor with less quantity.  The milk mixture may get a bit lumpy on you. The secret is to whisk the milk in slowly and then not worry about any small lumps. By the time you get all the cheese and pasta stirred in, they will be a distant memory.  By the way, the mini penne is perfect for this dish.  It’s just the right size.  I used Barilla, but I’m sure there are other brands that make it.  You could also use an elbow macaroni or other small shaped pasta, but I love the mini penne in it.

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The pasta and cheese mixture is then spread into a pan  and  topped with that glorious squash and bacon mixture. Then it gets a final sprinkling of parmesan before it goes into the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

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Roasted Butternut Squash Bacon Pasta.  This is fall comfort food at its best!

Roasted Butternut Squash Bacon Pasta

Ingredients

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups 1 inch cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 6 sweet hickory–smoked bacon slices
  • 1 cup thinly sliced shallots about 4 avg. sized
  • 8 ounces uncooked mini penne about 2 cups dry
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups 2% reduced fat milk
  • 3/4 cup 3 ounces shredded sharp provolone cheese
  • 1/3 cup 1 ½ ounces grated fresh parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Place squash on a foil lined baking sheet covered with cooking spray.
  3. Combine ¼ teaspoon salt, rosemary and pepper and sprinkle on the squash.
  4. Bake squash at 425 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Remove from oven and increase temperature to 450 degrees F.
  5. While squash is roasting, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 ½ teaspoons of the drippings in the pan. Crumble the bacon. Add shallots to the pan and sauté 8 minutes or until tender.
  6. Add the roasted squash to the bacon and shallots and stir to combine. Set aside.
  7. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.
  8. Combine flour and ½ teaspoon salt in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly with a whisk. Bring to a boil.
  9. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add provolone, stirring until cheese melts.
  10. Add pasta to cheese mixture, tossing well to combine.
  11. Spoon pasta mixture into an 11 x 7 inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray; top with squash mixture. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Cooking Light