Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bacon, Butternut, and Kale Penne

I recently discovered my love for butternut squash and so I've been trying out a ton of recipes with it.  In case you couldn't tell already, I also love bacon.  BACON.  And so when I saw this recipe for butternut squash and bacon, I knew I had to make it!  If you love bacon, butternut squash, and kale, then this recipe is for you!

I always modify my recipes to make them healthier if possible without sacrificing too much taste and I think turkey bacon tastes pretty good now so I used that, but if you want to maximize taste then use real bacon and/or add more!  And you can use creme fraiche instead of sour cream.  I use whole wheat pasta because I'm used to the taste and Trader Joe's has some pretty good ones, but if that's not your thing, then go with the regular stuff.

This is not difficult to make but there are a lot of components and you'll have to use lots of pots and pans, which I hate because that just means more washing afterwards.  I would either make this in advance or do it on a day when you have a couple hours before dinner time to spare.

Servings: Original recipe says 8, but for me this is more like 5

5 cups butternut squash, peeled and 1/2-inch cubed
12 oz uncooked penne (or ziti)
4 cups kale, chopped (or swiss chard)
4 bacon slices
2 cups onion, vertically sliced
1 teaspoon salt, divided
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup low-fat sour cream (or creme fraiche)
1/3 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
Cooking spray
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper


  • Preheat oven to 400°F. 
  • Peel and cube 5 cups squash (or be lazy like me and buy it pre-peeled and cubed).  
  • Place squash, spread out evenly, on a baking sheet or baking pan and spray with cooking spray (or you can toss the squash with 1 tbsp of olive oil before spreading on sheet/pan), and bake for 30 minutes until squash is tender.
  • Cook 12 oz penne for 5 minutes (I had a 16 oz bag and didn't want to have leftovers so I just dumped the whole bag in and I thought it ended up fine).
  • Add 4 cups kale to pasta and cook for 2 more minutes until pasta is almost al dente.
  • Drain pasta, rinse with cool water, and set aside.
  • Cook 4 slices of bacon either in a skillet on medium heat until crisp or zap it in the microwave according to instructions.  Let bacon cool for a bit and then crumble slices and set aside.
  • Either use leftover bacon grease or spray a pan with cooking spray and cook 2 cups of onion for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add 1/2 tsp salt and 5 minced garlic cloves to the onions and cook for an additional minute, stirring occasionally.
  • Bring 1 3/4 cup chicken broth to boil.  While heating that up, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup chicken broth and 2 tbsps flour in a small bowl.
  • Add flour mixture, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper, and 1/4 tsp black pepper to the heated chicken broth.  Cook for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup sour cream (or creme fraiche).
(Try to avoid the pleading stare of any begging pugs.)
  • Combine the squash, pasta mixture, crumbled bacon, onion mixture, and broth mixture in a large bowl (it's going to be big so put it in a really big bowl) and toss until everything is mixed together.  
  • Coat a 13" x 9" baking pan with cooking spray (I just used the pan I baked the squash in), and pour the pasta mixture in.  
  • Sprinkle 1/3 cup shredded cheese on top.
  • Bake for 25 minutes until slightly browned.  
  • Add salt and pepper to taste. 

  •  Now this is the most important step - take any leftover crumbled bacon you have on hand (or saved especially for this purpose) and feed the sad, begging pugs.

Adapted from My Recipes.