When I saw this recipe, I wanted to jump into my kitchen and make it immediately. It combine several of my very favorite ingredients - roasted butternut squash, sweet shallots, crispy bacon and of course, cheese. I didn't end up making the dish for several months, though, because Shane doesn't like squash or shallots and they were such a big part of the dish I knew picking around them (which he often does when I include ingredients he dislikes) would be a pain. Don't get the wrong idea - he's a good sport about eating whatever I make but I try to be considerate. Instead, I waited until I was by myself house sitting for his parents last month to whip up the recipe. The combination of flavors was just as yummy as I'd hoped they'd be; I could have eaten a big bowl of just the caramelized squash, smoky bacon and shallots. This is definitely not as decadent as most of the homemade mac and cheese recipes I've made, but I guess that's sort of the point. The sauce for the pasta is comprised of only flour and milk, skipping the butter typically included in most recipes, so if for some reason you wanted to make this dish richer you could start there :) I didn't miss the fat one bit, though, and will absolutely make this again when I find myself cooking dinner for one.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon Pasta
from Cooking Light
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
6 slices bacon
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
8 oz uncooked pasta
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% milk
3/4 cup (3 oz) shredded sharp provolone cheese
1/3 cup (1 1/2 oz) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray. Add the butternut squash to the pan and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, the rosemary and pepper. Toss to coat the squash evenly with the spices. Bake for 45 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned. Remove and set aside. Increase oven temperature to 450 F.
Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer the bacon to a plate, reserving 1 1/2 teaspoons of drippings in the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high, and add the shallots to the pan. Cook for 8 minutes, or until tender. Crumble the bacon, then combine with the squash and shallots. Set aside.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
Meanwhile, combine the flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat. Gradually add the milk to the pan, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute, or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the provolone, stirring until the cheese melts. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce, tossing well to combine. Transfer the pasta mixture to an 11 x 7-inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray then top with the squash mixture. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over the top. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese melts and begins to brown.