Sunday Sustenance: Unseasonably Spring

Y’all, listen up: it’s Spring*!

Melty snow + 50+ temps = Spring.

Melty snow + 50+ temps = Spring.

What, does this not look like Spring to you?

Admittedly, it isn’t all green and flowery, but the snow is disappearing! And it is supposed to hit SIXTY DEGREES TODAY!! That number hasn’t been seen in months and it is a welcome sight. Walking around the neighborhood we’re running into all sorts of friends we haven’t seen pre-holidays. People are coming out of hibernation and it is lovely! It won’t last, but it’s great now:) This installment of Sunday Sustenance doesn’t really seem appropriate given today’s balmy temps, but believe me, earlier this week, it was still very much winter.

Three weeks ago I had a craving for butternut squash so I picked one up on trip to the grocery store. Then the craving passed and the butternut squash sat there two weeks, staring at me every time I got something out of my pantry. I’m not one to waste food, so I scoured my Pinterest board and recipe books until I found this little number:

Photo: Johnny Autry

Photo: Johnny Autry

Bacon and Butternut Pasta via Cooking Light

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 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. Preheat oven to 400°.
  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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

I’m not great at following recipes to a T. I don’t typically measure spices. I add enough shakes as seems appropriate. I will often add spices or herbs not called for in the recipe and leave out those I’m not particularly fond of. (It’s nothing personal flat-leaf parsley, I just don’t like you.) This has suited me fine in cooking, not it baking. (Damn chemistry). B has been served enough “healthy cookies” to carry him through the rest of his life. Some things simply require butter, apparently.

In this recipe I added three shakes of dried oregano and a shake of smoked paprika. YUM. I also used apple-smoked Gruyère and shredded some in while the concoction was still on the stove. I used lacinato kale. B isn’t huge about leafy greens outside of a salad, but I chopped it very finely and it passed the test.

I used turkey bacon instead of regular, and six strips instead of two. I also left out the crème fraîche completely. The shredded Gruyère added plenty of creaminess, so I didn’t think it was necessary. I also used whole wheat penne.

Overall, I’d say it was a hit! Are you diligent recipe followers or more of the rebellious variety?

Now, I’m off to take Mox for a long walk and enjoy every second of the nice weather. He went a little overboard on the bone-front last night and needs to burn some cals:)

Betcha can't eat just one.

Betcha can’t eat just one.

Have a great week!

*Spring, meaning, warm for few days followed by inevitable snow, followed by 80’s degrees. Midwest (shrug).

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