My P.S. (Personal Shopper/hubby) and I were grocery shopping together, which is rare. He does the grocery shopping, it’s his thing. I tailed along this time and he was pointing out the seasonal specials, one of which was squash. In an unusual move, I chose three different squashes and put them into the cart. I was trying to be optimistic. I don’t really care to eat squash often.
I’ve made squash many times and in many different ways. I do eat it, it’s just not on the top half of my list of favorites. I’d seen a few recipes recently that I thought I might like. I knew my P.S. would like them, he eats just about anything. The one way I do like squash is roasted and mashed in a pasta sauce. I will eat pasta with just about anything for a sauce.
I hadn’t used kabocha in a sauce before but that was easily fixed. I halved the squash and put it cut side down onto a baking sheet and slid it into the oven. I roasted it at 425°F for about an hour, until a fork easily went through the skin.
I roasted several squashes one day and after removing the seeds I scraped out the squash and put them into containers for easy use in the next few days.
The day I wanted to make a pasta sauce I pulled my roasted kabocha squash out of the fridge and already had a good head start on my pasta dish.
I sautéed some red onion and chopped celery in a drizzle of oil until it was becoming translucent.
I added the remains of a bag of cole slaw mix to the skillet and let it sauté for a few more minutes. You don’t want to lose too much of the crunch as the dish will cook more later.
In a second skillet I fried a few strips of bacon I’d diced finely. I let it fry until it was browned then added 2 diced chicken breasts and 2 teaspoons of minced garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of sage. I fried the chicken until it was no longer pink.
In the first skillet with the onion and celery I added 4 tablespoons of butter and when it was melted I added 4 tablespoons of flour. Stirring and cooking it a few minutes, I then added the bacon and chicken from the second skillet.
I added the roasted kabocha squash to the skillet along with 3 cups of chicken broth. I stirred and let the sauce bubble until it was thickened. I taste tested and added salt and pepper until I was pleased with the flavors.
As a final “clean out the fridge” move I roughly chopped a handful of baby spinach and stirred it into the sauce.
I’d boiled up a pot of radiatore pasta and drained it, reserving about 2 cups of pasta water. I added the pasta to the skillet and stirred well. I let the pasta absorb some of the sauce and didn’t need to add pasta water. The texture was great and our meal was ready!
I really loved this dish. It had just the right mix of vegetables and adding the bacon and chicken was a good touch. It was an autumn casserole that satisfied.
Kabocha squash happened to be my squash of choice in this dish but I’m sure butternut squash or others would work as well. I’ve used butternut squash in pasta dishes with equal success.
Kabocha Chicken Pasta
2 cups roasted kabocha squash
1/4 cup red onion; finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup celery; finely chopped
2 cups shredded cole slaw mix
8 slices bacon; finely sliced
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts; cut into 1″ pieces (about 2 cups)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sage
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
large handful of spinach; roughly chopped
3 cups chicken broth
1 box radiatore pasta; prepared to al dente according to box directions; drained and save 2-3 cups pasta water
Prepare pasta and drain, reserving pasta water.
In a large skillet heat a drizzle of oil and sauté red onion and celery until it begins to turn translucent. Add cole slaw mix and continue to cook for 3-4 more minutes.
In a second skillet fry diced bacon until browned. Add chicken, minced garlic and sage and fry until chicken is no longer pink.
To larger skillet add 4 tablespoons of butter. When the butter is melted add 4 tablespoons of flour. Stir well. Add bacon and chicken to skillet. Add squash and stir well.
Add chicken broth and stir until sauce has thickened. Add spinach and cook a few minutes until it is wilted.
Add pasta and stir. Simmer for several minutes, allowing the pasta to absorb some of the sauce. If it seems too dry, add pasta water as necessary.
Taste test for seasoning adding salt and pepper to taste.