Thursday, January 19, 2012

Squash Prep

Bacon and butternut pasta.  Creamy, savory, sweet, oniony, rich, light (supposedly) and USES SWISS CHARD (made it twice this week for this reason).  Creme fraiche, Gruyere, what's not to like?  I think you will come to refer to it as your thank-you pasta, because every time you prepare it your loved ones will say, It's delicious! and you'll smile sweetly and say

                                            Oh why thank you.

Bacon and Butternut Pasta, Cooking Light, January 2012. 
Printable version here

5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash*

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 12 ounces uncooked ziti (short tube-shaped pasta), campanile, or other short pasta
  • 4 cups chopped kale (or other dark leafy green)
  • 2 bacon slices
  • 2 cups vertically sliced onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese

  • Preparation

    1. 1. Preheat oven to 400°.
    2. 2. Combine squash and oil in a large bowl; toss well. Arrange squash mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until squash is tender.
    3. 3. Cook pasta 7 minutes or until almost al dente, omitting salt and fat. Add kale to pan during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta mixture.
    4. 4. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
    5. 5. Bring 1 3/4 cups broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Combine remaining 1/4 cup broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to broth. Cook 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir in crème fraîche.
    6. 6. Combine squash, pasta mixture, bacon, onion mixture, and sauce in a large bowl; toss gently. Place pasta mixture in a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned.
    *Turns out b-squash is not the easiest butternut to crack.  CL tutorial here.

    p.s.  Another slow cooker revolution: caramelized onions.  I put some on a pizza with truffle oil, a lil cheese and some CSA spinach.  Winner winner vegetarian dinner.

    To make:
    8 onions, halved and sliced
    3 T unsalted butter, melted
    salt n pepa
    3 T brown sugar

    1.  Microwave onion with 1 T butter and 2 teaspoons salt in bowl, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 15 minutes.  Drain onions, discarding liquid, transfer to slow cooker.
    2.  Stir sugar, remaining butter and 1/2 teaspoon pepper into slow cooker.  Cover and cook until onions are deep golden brown, 8 to 10 hours on high.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Store in fridge for up to one week.

    ***BEWARE*** Step 2 creates delicious caramelized onions... Step 1 creates ONION TEAR GAS.  So bear this in mind during prep or if you ever need to whip up a riot control agent in your kitchen.


    1. I made pork and b-nut squash kebabs last week - from Martha Stewart Everyday Food, I think - by the time I had the squash peeled, cut, and seeded, I wanted nothing to do with the entree. Glad your recipe made them taste good!

    2. Yes the squash is *exhausting* to cube... I think the extra calorie expenditure is calculated into the nutrition info by Cooking Light :)

    3. Slicing 8 onions is a prefect opportunity to use the Cuisinart... I will be trying the second recipe fo sho! I love them in omelets as well as pizza & pasta.

    4. You definitely omit the bacon and make the pasta vegetarian. The onions are the best part.