When my husband needs lovin’ and I need a dose of his admiration I cook with luxury in mind. Warm, cuddly, salty goodness all folded together and baked in the oven. This is the kind of food I love to cook. But comfort food doesn’t have to be drop dead unhealthy. This casserole works in whole wheat pasta, and cheese is used sparingly without compromising the silky texture or crunchy top. Butternut squash is the star of this dish. Smoky bacon and earthy sage are a strong supporting cast.
Indulgent and wholesome. Who says we can’t have it all?
I don’t have a clever name for this one. It’s just darn good the way it is.
Butternut Squash and Bacon Gratiné
(8 hearty servings: 415 calories, 16 grams of fat, 8 grams of fiber, 20 grams of protein)
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
- 3/4 pound whole wheat penne pasta
- 6 slices thick cut bacon
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 cups homemade chicken stock
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 10 fresh sage leaves, sliced in to ribbons
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup shredded pecorino romano cheese
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until almost al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain pasta. Set aside.
- Slice the bacon in to ½ inch pieces and cook in a large sauté pan over medium heat for 5 minutes. Once the bacon starts to brown, add the red onion and cook together until the bacon is crisp and onions are caramelized, about 7-10 minutes. Remove bacon and onions on to a paper towel to strain, leaving 1 teaspoon of the drippings in the pan.
- Increase heat to medium-high. Add squash, salt, pepper, garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add chicken stock (enough to almost cover the squash), cover and cook for 10 minutes. When the squash is fork tender, mash until smooth. Remove from heat. Add sour cream and romano, stirring until cheese melts. Add pasta, sage and half of the bacon, tossing well to combine. Spoon into a large gratine pan (or an 11 x 7-inch baking dish) lightly coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle the top evenly with remaining bacon, romano and parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 375° for 10 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly.