I need to be more organized and topical with my blogging! I was lining up recipes to post and realized I’d missed posting this fall pasta dish back in November. Yes, the post has been ignored in the bottom of the post pile, forgotten for almost 3 months. Shame on me. It was so good and I treated it so badly!
We had a jumbo golden hubbard squash to roast and once that was conquered, I was in search of recipes to use the freshly roasted goodness. I was looking for a new pasta dish that I could use arugula in. Although the original recipe called for butternut squash, I knew hubbard would be a good substitute. So the next day we decided to have grilled burgers and grilled green beans, and a side of some kind of pasta. I wanted to try the new pasta recipe. I put the salted water on to boil for pasta and then diced up 4 strips of bacon to brown and crisp up. The recipe said to fry 2 strips but she amended it saying she recommended 4 strips. I agreed. More with the bacon.
I preferred to dice the bacon when it was still raw, then brown it up in the skillet. When the bacon was crisp I removed it from the skillet and added the diced onion.
I let the onion sauté until it was a little brown and caramelized. I put the bacon and onion into a large bowl with the now drained al dente pasta.
Next I put two cups of chicken broth into a small pot and brought it to a boil. I added the seasonings and then the dissolved cornstarch, stirring until it thickened somewhat.
In the meantime I’d diced up 5 cups of my roasted squash and added it to the bowl. When the sauce was done I poured that over the ingredients in the bowl and stirred it will. I scooped it into my sprayed baking dish then looked at the arugula and said “oh oh”.
I poured the pasta back into the bowl, added the arugula, and stirred until it was all blended. Then I poured it all into my baking dish once more. NOW it was ready! I put the dish into the oven and set the timer for 25 minutes.
After 15 minutes I peeked at the casserole and it was looking dry. I pulled out the dish and stirred it a couple of times, incorporating the moisture that was mostly on the bottom of the dish, then returned it to the oven. Ten minutes later it was all bubbly and done, but again looking a little dry. I folded it carefully to rehydrate the top layer and it was gorgeous and ready to eat. I served it with our burgers and green beans and we were impressed with the flavors.
The squash was more of a minor presence, as well as the arugula. It all blended so well and was delicious. The bacon was much more noticeable and it was a good call to have increased the amount to 4 slices. The ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes that I thought would be a bit much for my liking was actually fairly mild. It was probably downplayed by the squash that tends to neutral flavors.
I liked the fact that the recipe didn’t just use an easy can of prepared soup as the sauce that bound it all together. I dislike canned soups and would much rather make a quick sauce of my own from bouillon or stock. The recipe wasn’t a one pot meal but the casserole was definitely worth having to wash four different cooking pans and containers afterwards.
I accidentally omitted the cheese and didn’t notice I had until I was writing the blog post. I liked the pasta bake exactly as it was, without the cheese. It was rich and very filling. I left it in the recipe but it is listed as optional. There is so much going on with flavors, I would recommend skipping it.
Bacon and Squash Pasta Bake
5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled squash (I used hubbard squash)
1 tablespoon olive oil Cooking spray
12 ounces uncooked ziti (I used rigatoni)
4 cups coarsely chopped kale (I used arugula)
4 slices bacon
1 cup onion; diced
1 teaspoon salt, divided
5 garlic cloves, minced (I used a teaspoon of garlic powder)
2 cups chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup crème fraîche (I used plain yogurt)
1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces)
shredded Gruyère cheese (I omitted)
Preheat oven to 400°.
If your squash isn’t alreay roasted, 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.
Cook pasta in unsalted water for 7 minutes or until almost al dente. Drain pasta and set aside.
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 seasonings and cook another minute.
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 and cook until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir in crème fraîche or yogurt.
Combine squash, pasta, arugula, bacon and 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 (optional). Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned.
Adapted from The Story of Us