Butternut Squash Penne With Bacon, Corn and Sauteed Broccoli Greens

6 10 2014

I can’t help but feel like I knocked dinner out of the park tonight with this luscious, Alfredo-like pasta dish that’s healthy to boot! I didn’t use cream, butter or flour – but still achieved the rich and silky consistency we’ve all come to love from Alfredo, thanks to roasted butternut squash puree. I recommend making the puree over the weekend (it’s super easy, just will take an hour or so)…this way you can whip this meal faster during a busy weeknight.

Butternut Squash Penne With Bacon, Corn and Sauteed Broccoli Greens

The following serves 4-6 (adapted from Cuisine at Home):

  • 1 butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed
  • Olive oil
  • 8 strips of bacon, diced
  • Chopped broccoli greens from 1-2 heads of broccoli (alternatively, you could also use kale, about 1.5 cups worth or so)
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 13 oz whole wheat penne or fettuccine pasta
  • 2 ears of sweet corn, kernels cut off the cobs
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup dry Marsala
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used skim, while the original recipe called for heavy cream – use what you have)
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped nuts like walnuts or hazelnuts
  • Grated parmesan
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet or casserole dish with foil. Lightly coat the squash halves with olive oil on both sides. Place squash, flesh side down on pan. Add 1 cup of water to the pan. Bake squash until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Scoop flesh from the squash and puree in a Vitamix or blender, discard the skin. At this point you can cover and store the puree in the fridge until you’re ready to make this meal.

In a large non-stick skillet, cook bacon until crisp and remove to a paper towel lined plate. Discard most of the bacon grease, but leave a little in your skillet. Add the broccoli greens or kale and saute until wilted a few minutes. Season with salt to taste and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Remove to paper towel lined plate.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season liberally with salt. Boil pasta in salted water according to package directions, cooking to al dente. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the corn kernels. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then strain pasta and corn.

To the skillet you used to cook the bacon and greens in, add a Tbsp or so of olive oil and heat over medium-high. Add shallots and cool until soft, a couple of minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Deglaze skillet with Marsala and cook until nearly evaporated.

Stir in squash puree (about 2 cups worth, but no worries if you have a little less – the sauce will still be great). Next add the milk and broth, stir to combine and season with salt to taste.

Stir in the pasta and corn, along with 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Add a little at first, then more as needed to reach your desired sauce consistency. Toss the pasta and corn with the sauce over heat for a minute or two. Add sautéed greens and most of the bacon, reserving a little for garnish, and toss well. If your sauce seems a little loose, remove from the heat and allow it to sit for a few minutes which will thicken it up.

To serve, dish out the pasta and garnish with toasted nuts, parmesan, parsley and black pepper to taste.

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Linguine with Chipotle Pumpkin Cream Sauce

13 10 2013

I love fall and practically love everything pumpkin! So when I saw this on Pinterest (from Sarcastic Cooking), I just had to give it a whirl. This pasta is a spicy, creamy fall treasure that I thoroughly enjoyed, and bonus….it’ll be done in under 15 minutes!

Linguine with Chipotle Pumpkin Cream Sauce

Linguine with Chipotle Pumpkin Cream Sauce

The following serves 2-4:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 heaping Tbsp pureed canned chipotle in adobo
  • ¾ cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup unsweetened plain almond milk (I used fat-free half-and-half instead)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ lb cooked pasta, such as linguine or spaghetti (I used whole wheat linguine)
  • 4 Tbsp toasted slivered almonds and pumpkin seeds (I used sunflower seeds instead)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro

Add olive oil to a large skillet. Heat oil over medium/low heat for a minute. Add garlic and chipotle. Mix to combine and sauté for one to two minutes. Spoon in pumpkin puree and whisk to combine. Slowly add the almond milk (or half-and-half) while whisking. Cook for three minutes over low heat. If the sauce seems too thick, add a little low-sodium chicken stock to thin slightly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, cook pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Drain and add cooked pasta to sauce. Cook in the sauce, stirring constantly for a few minutes so the pasta absorbs the sauce. Top pasta with almonds, pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds), cilantro and pepper. Being Italian, there generally isn’t a pasta I eat without parmesan cheese….so I also topped with some grated parm 🙂

Serve immediately.





Braised Chicken Thighs with Lemon-Garlic Cream Pasta

9 03 2012

Lemon and garlic….two of my favorite things! I found a great recipe from Emeril Lagasse for lemon-garlic braised chicken thighs, which I just had to try my own version of! Emeril’s recipe serves the chicken thighs with butter-parsley pasta, but I like my version better 🙂

Braised Chicken Thighs with Lemon-Garlic Cream Pasta

The following serves 4:

  • 6-8 chicken thighs with bones and skin, about 3 pounds (I used boneless, skinless instead and it was still delicious!)
  • Salt and pepper
  • All-purpose flour, enough to lightly dredge the chicken
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 heaping Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Dry white wine, a few turns of the pan
  • 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti (or pasta of your choice)
  • Couple Tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • Heavy cream, a few turns of the pan
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Place some flour in a shallow dish and lightly dredge the chicken in the flour and set aside.

In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the chicken and brown well on both sides, about 6 minuets. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add the onions to the oil and cook, stirring and wilting down, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper, about 1/4 tsp salt and a bay leaf and cook 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with some white wine, a few turns of the pan, be sure to scrape up any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Cook for about a minute. Next add the lemon juice, chicken broth and the browned chicken thighs to the pan. Bring mixture to a simmer, cover tightly and place in the oven. If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, heat a baking dish in the oven for a few minutes to get it hot, then add the chicken and the braising liquid and cover with foil.

Bake for 20 minutes, remove the lid (or foil) and cook an additional 15 minutes, or until cooked through and tender.

While the chicken is baking, cook the pasta according to the package, to al dente. When the pasta has about 5 minutes left to go, remove the chicken from the oven and transfer most of the braising liquid (including onions and garlic) to a skillet over medium-high heat. Let the chicken rest in the baking dish in the meantime. Bring liquid to a bubble, add zest of 1 lemon and 2 Tbsp cold butter. Simmer until it starts to thicken. Toss in pasta and heavy cream, a few turns of the pan. Next add in grated cheese and chopped parsley and toss pasta until well coated with the sauce.

Plate the pasta, topped with chicken thighs and another sprinkle of chopped parsley.