For years my dear friend Courtney and I have been hypothetically planning Gourd Night, a multi-course extravaganza in which all courses have a prominent gourd component. I love all things gourd - pumpkin ravioli, butternut squash soup, spaghetti squash spaghetti. Courtney slaved away to prepare butternut squash lasagna for my bachelorette weekend (that was a fabulous meal and a fabulous weekend - thanks again!). Court's marriage to a non-gourd-guy (how could she??) will just require us to be more creative in our choices - if it didn't sound like a double entendre, I would suggest we call it Hide the Gourd Night...
Fortunately, my man puts up with my multiple butternut squash experiments with grace, and I think he actually likes all this stuff. He did choose Butternut Squash Ravioli in Brown Butter and Sage as the fave dinner prepared by me, in a darling little 'how well do you know your husband-to-be' quiz from said bachelorette weekend. And though I haven't tackled homemade butternut ravioli yet (I so want to do pasta, but the thought keeps giving me palpitations - I can at least try making them from the wonton wrappers sitting in the freezer for this purpose soon) we have eaten lasagna, soup, puree, and roasted varieties in the past few months.
And here is a recipe that even Courtney's gourd-phobic hubby will love. Why? Simple. Bacon.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon Pasta
Adapted from Cooking Light by Leslie at definitelynotmartha
3/4 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (1 smallish squash)
6 slices hickory-smoked bacon
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
8 oz mini penne, elbow macaroni, regular penne, spirals, or other small pasta
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
3/4 cup (3 ounces) cheddar (I subbed monterey jack out of necessity!)
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, rosemary, and pepper. Place squash on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with salt mixture. Bake at 425° for 45 minutes or until tender and lightly browned.
3. Increase oven temperature to 450°.
4. Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 1/2 teaspoons drippings in pan; crumble bacon. Save the rest of the drippings for later.
5. Increase heat to medium-high. Add shallots to pan; sauté 8 minutes or until tender.
6. Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain well.
7. Add another 1-2 T of bacon fat to your shallots. Combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt and add to the shallots over medium-high heat. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add cheddar, stirring until cheese melts. Add pasta to cheese mixture, tossing well to combine. Add bacon and squash and stir gently (or you will mash the squash). Spoon pasta mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown.
Yield: 5 servings
I cook the bacon in a Dutch oven, drain most of the fat while the bacon cooks, and after removing the cooked bacon I can do everything else in the Dutch oven. Then I can transfer it straight to the oven for 10 minutes. I made a double batch, so I transferred half of the pasta to a second dish for baking.
Oh, yes, there will be a Gourd Night.