The most delicious fall/wintertime recipe, hands down. I don't have the patience to roast squash and this is a great way to get picky kids to eat healthy vegetables.
- 3 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
- 4 -5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
- 3 cups Baby Spinach, rough chopped
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb penne pasta
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1⁄4 teaspoon dried sage
- 1⁄4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1⁄4 cup flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1⁄3 cup Italian cheese blend (parmesan, reggiano, asiago, provolone, etc)
- Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 13x9 pan liberally with non-stick spray. Start a pot of 5 qt water with liberal salt for the penne.
- Cook bacon until crisp over medium heat in a large non-stick skillet. Drain bacon over paper towels and reserve 3 TBSP fat in pan.
- Salt and pepper chicken pieces. Cook chicken breast pieces in the bacon fat for about 4 minutes, until no longer pink in the center. Reserve chicken and tent with foil.
- Add enough olive oil to coat pan; add squash, salt, pepper and sage. Cover pan and stir occasionally for 5-7 minutes, until squash is semi-soft. Add onion and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes, until onion is translucent. Add garlic, red pepper, and spinach to skillet and cook until spinach is wilted, 3-4 minutes.
- Do not cook your penne until al dente; it will continue to cook in the oven. Only cook for about 7 minutes.
- In a seperate saucepan cook flour over medium heat, gradually adding milk and whisking continuously until boiling. Boil for two minutes or until thickened; remove from heat and add cheese, stirring until melted.
- Add flour/milk/cheese mixture to pasta; add pasta to squash mixture. Add more milk if mixture is too thick. Spread mixture into 13x9 pan; sprinkle more cheese on top if desired. Cook in oven 15-20 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbling. Let cool for 10-15 minutes; serve.
Thumbs up and a "tasty" comment from my husband. Won't get any better than that. Made for New Kids on the Block Tag Game. :)