It pretty much goes without saying that anything with bacon in it is going to be good. So, when I ran across this recipe, the bacon part caught my attention. As I read a little further down the list of ingredients, I realized that it had all the makings of a great pasta dish – and I was right. The butternut squash is so good; almost candy-like after being roasted with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of salt. Sizzle up some diced bacon, add a couple of teaspoons of garlic, toss everything together with some healthy whole grain Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Penne, chopped sage and Parmesan cheese – and now we’re talking. Erin, my Hodgson Mill co-blogger, and I both like squash in our recipes lately, but who can blame us? Squash is low in calories, has no saturated fats or cholesterol, it’s high in fiber and beta carotene and is a great source of Vitamin A – a natural antioxidant. Pair it with healthy whole wheat pasta, and it’s not so surprising this dish made it to the top of my “must make” list, right?
Spring is around the corner and flowers are starting to bloom. But before we all get out our barbeque grills and abandon our ovens, I urge you to roast some butternut squash and put together this pasta dish. It’s easy, delicious and full of good nutrition – from the many benefits squash contributes to all of the healthful goodness whole grains bring to the table in the Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Penne. Besides, it has bacon in it.
To get things going, preheat your oven to 450˚F and toss the squash with some balsamic vinegar, olive oil and coarse-grain salt on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. I recommend buying the pre-cut squash cubes for this recipe to cut down on time, but you can always buy a whole butternut squash, peel, seed, and cut it up yourself. You need about two cups. (The pre-cut cubes are located in the produce section of the grocery store.)
Roast the squash until it’s tender and caramelized – about 15 to 20 minutes. Be sure to stir the squash around at least once while it’s roasting to allow for even browning.
Roasted squash does not make for a beautiful picture, but oh man, are these guys good! Lest you be tempted to stop at this point and make a meal out of these delicious orange morsels, hold on for a few more minutes so that the bacon and garlic can come to the party. Sneak a few to snack on if you must, but set the rest aside.
Boil a large pot of water and cook 8 oz. of Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Penne pasta according to the directions on the box. Reserve one cup of the cooking water when you drain the pasta. Set aside both the water and cooked pasta.
Cook the bacon in a large skillet until the fat has rendered and it’s crisp – about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Pour out all but one tablespoon of the bacon drippings and add the garlic to the skillet. Cook the garlic for one minute, being careful not to burn it.
Add the roasted squash, bacon and penne to the skillet with the garlic. Toss everything together, adding the reserved pasta water, ¼ cup at a time, until it looks wet. You may not need all of the water. If things cool down in the process, turn the heat on low until everything is warmed up and heated through.
Sprinkle some chopped sage and Parmesan on top, give the pasta one last toss and dinner is ready. If you want to get fancy, go ahead and drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over each plateful of goodness before serving.
Whole Wheat Penne with Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon is a winning pasta dish at my house. The flavors all come together perfectly; a little sweetness here, a little salty there, with a whole lot of good nutrition in between. I hope you like this pasta dish as much as we do. Enjoy!
Whole Wheat Penne with Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon
- 2 cups diced butternut squash (1/2 inch cubes)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Sprinkle of coarse-grain salt
- 8 oz. Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Penne
- 5 slices of thickly cut bacon, diced
- 3 teaspoons minced garlic
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- Balsamic vinegar for drizzling
Preheat oven to 450ºF. Toss the squash with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and coarse-grain salt on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until the squash is soft (but not mushy) and becoming caramelized – stirring at least once in the process. Set aside. Cook the pasta in a large pot of water according to the directions on the box. Reserve one cup of the cooking water when draining the pasta. Set aside. Sauté the bacon in a large skillet until the fat is rendered and bacon is crisp. Drain the bacon on a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Pour out all but one tablespoon of bacon drippings from the skillet and add the garlic to the pan. Cook the garlic for a minute, being careful not to burn it. Add the roasted squash, bacon and pasta to the skillet with the garlic and toss everything together. Add reserved cooking water, ¼ cup at a time, to the pasta mixture until it looks evenly wet – you may not need all of the water. Warm things up on low heat if necessary. Sprinkle the chopped sage and Parmesan cheese on top, give the dish one last toss and serve immediately. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over the top of each serving if so desired.
Adapted from Cuisine at Home magazine