Jan 27, 2009
Food for a winter’s night: Roasted butternut squash and bacon casserole
Last week, Amy and I made one of my favorite recipes for the winter, a creamy butternut squash and bacon casserole that I got from Cooking Light. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Cooking Light has absolutely fantastic, delicious recipes that just happen to be a bit lighter than traditional recipes. It’s great for comfort food. Here’s the final version, plated up:
The recipe itself is fairly simple, but there are a lot of components that go into it. Now that I’ve made it a few times, I can get it done in about an hour and a half, but at first it took me about two hours. You can, however, make it ahead and then pop it in the oven for 10-15 minutes before dinner. I’ve never done this but I think it would work out just fine. So, here’s the recipe, adapted from the Cooking Light site with my modifications:
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 1 teaspoon dried fresh rosemary
→ I use fresh because there’s a bush of it growing outside our back door; dried should work fine.
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
→ I never measure it; grind it until it looks like there’s enough!
3 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
Cooking spray → Regular canola oil works fine
6 sweet hickory-smoked bacon slices (raw)
I highly recommend the Niman Ranch applewood smoked bacon (the best bacon ever!)
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
8 ounces uncooked
→ What is this "mini" penne?! Regular-size only, please!
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 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
→ Or, use as much as you please.
Preheat oven to 425°.
Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, rosemary, and pepper. Place squash on a foil-lined baking sheet
coated with cooking spray that you have rubbed with oil; sprinkle with salt mixture. Bake at 425° for 45 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Increase oven temperature to 450°.
Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 1/2 teaspoons drippings in pan; crumble bacon. Increase heat to medium-high. Add shallots to pan; sauté 8 minutes or until tender. Combine squash mixture, bacon, and shallots; set aside.
Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting
salt and fat. (Unless you have a salt issue, don’t omit the salt, or the pasta will be too bland.) Drain well.
Combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add provolone, stirring until cheese melts. Add pasta to cheese mixture, tossing well to combine. Spoon pasta mixture into an 11 x 7-inch oiled baking dish
lightly coated with cooking spray; top with squash mixture. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese. (You see? Why use only 1/3 cup? Use as much as you like!) Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown.
When it’s done, it will look like this (OK, after you’ve scooped some out):
And here’s the close-up:
All I can say is: YUM. I love butternut squash. I love cheese. I love love love penne (it is The Superior Pasta!). Who doesn’t love bacon? Combine them all together — with the added benefit of shallots — and this is definitely one of my favorite winter recipes.