Recipe: Baked Penne w/Butternut Squash, Ricotta, Bacon, & Walnuts
This is a delicious Autumn themed meal and very filling! The walnuts add a nice flavor and crunch while the bacon… is bacon! Smokey and AWESOME!
- 2 LBS butternut squash, cubed and peeled
- 5 C whole-wheat penne, cooked
- 1 1/4 C milk (I used 2%)
- 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
- 1/2 C part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1/3 C Parmesan cheese, grated (I use REAL Parmesan Reggiano)
- 1/4 C walnuts, chopped and toasted
- 4 slices of thick cut bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- kosher salt to taste (the type of salt I use)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 TSP fresh thyme leaves, chopped (you could also use dried)
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Coat a cookie (baking) sheet and a 2 1/2- to 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Place squash on baking sheet; sprinkle salt and grind pepper over the squash and roast until tender, about 30 minutes. Place in a large bowl and mash until all the cubes are broken up but not totally smooth. I use a potato masher for this NOT a hand-mixer.
3. In a large saucepan, whisk together milk, flour, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking frequently; reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in mashed squash, chopped bacon, and the fresh thyme. Add sauce to pasta; toss to mix and coat.
4. Transfer pasta mixture to prepared baking dish; dot with spoonfuls of ricotta and then sprinkle with Parmesan and walnuts. Bake until top is lightly browned in a few spots, about 20 minutes; remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
Makes about 1 cup per serving and this recipe makes 8 servings. You can eliminate the bacon to make this dish vegetarian as well!
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