Braised Butternut Squash, Bacon Penne Bake is a creamy pasta bake tossed in a creamy butternut squash, bacon sauce. This wholesome, comforting meal is easy enough for a weeknight dinner, but impressive enough for company.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH, BACON PENNE BAKE
I don’t spend hours on end preparing food to make my family and kids happy. Nope. Number one priority is me. And why shouldn’t it be? I’m the one doing all the heavy lifting here.
When I am perusing my obscene number of cooking magazines and salivating over recipes, I’m thinking…That looks freakin’ delicious and I want to eat it.
Unfortunately my inner dialogue drifts to…If I make this meal and serve it to my family will I have to:
A) Leave the room because I don’t want to watch my kids utilize the involuntarily gag reflex.
B) Witness them take one bite and immediately ask how many more bites they have to endure before their sentence is over.
C) Eat the new food with no comment, which I therefore interpret as a raging success.
Honestly, I always shoot for B or C, and I’m fine with either. If they are able to eat the new exotic meal and not regurgitate it, I’m good and let’s call it a night. No sleep is lost, or am I offended because kids have the palate of, well, a kid.
My kids are not going to love everything I cook for them, and that’s okay. I don’t think they should love everything you cook for them because if they do, something tells me they are on a steady diet of chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, and pasta with butter. It’s good to expose them to new foods because who wants their kids to grow up to be that 40-year-old guy at the cocktail party who refuses to eat anything but cheese cubes?
So you have my permission to cook what you want to eat, and the rest of them will just have to deal.
The chunks of braised squash break down during baking to create a creamy, comforting sauce. Even if the kids choose to pick around the bigger chunks of squash, or employ the tactic my 2 year old uses – scoop up indiscretionary bites and let the chunks of squash roll off his tongue – joke’s on them. They’re eating squash whether they like it or not, and one day they will thank you for opening their eyes to the glorious world of trying new foods.
SAVE THIS BRAISED BUTTERNUT SQUASH, BACON PENNE BAKE TO YOUR PINTEREST BOARD!
And let’s be friends on Pinterest! I’m always pinning great recipes!
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme)
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed 1" pieces
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 12 ounces penne or gluten free penne
- 1 1/4 cup half and half
- 1/2 cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 375˚F. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.
Heat a large oven proof sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook about 3 minutes, or until about halfway done. Add onions and continue cooking until bacon is crisp and onions are soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds longer.
Add the thyme, cubed squash, and salt. Stir to combine. Add broth and scrape bottom of pan with a silicone spoon to loosen all the bits. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat, and cook for about 10 minutes or until squash is fork tender.
Meanwhile cook the penne according to the directions for al dente. If you are using gluten free pasta, cook it 5 minutes less than the package calls for al dente. It should be firm and a little crunchy. Drain.
Add the half and half and Parmesan to the squash mixture and stir. Add the cooked pasta and stir to combine everything. If you aren't using an oven proof sauté pan, transfer it all to a greased baking dish. Top pasta dish with mozzarella cheese.
Bake uncovered for 25 minutes, or until the cheese on top is golden and the sauce is bubbling. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Make ahead instructions: Cook the bacon and make the butternut cream sauce that follows. When you are ready to eat, just boil the pasta, mix with prepared sauce, and bake.
EQUIPMENT USED:Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 5-Quart Saute Pan with Cover Wusthof 4183-7 Wusthof Classic 7-Inch Santoku Knife, Hollow Edge OXO Good Grips Silicone Spoon
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