Penne with Butternut Squash, Bacon and Sage

Penne with Butternut Squash, Bacon and Sage

Okay, I know.  Pasta again.  I shared another pasta recipe only two weeks ago, and fair warning that I have one more coming your way soon.  Apparently I am on more of a kick than I originally thought.  But I swear I had to post this dish – it’s good.  Really good.  And I don’t want to hold out on you.  That would be silly.

Penne with Butternut Squash, Bacon and Sage

So here we go.  The last time I made this dish was over a year ago and I was excited to have it again this past week.  When I saw the newly arrived cartons of butternut squash at the food store, I knew this dish had to happen.  It is very different from the pasta recipes I normally make, but in a good way.

This dish is bright and fresh, from a hint of lemon and lots of sage.  The crispy bacon adds some saltiness and the walnuts add a little bit of crunch.  It is all tied together with chicken broth, wine and cream cheese.  Creamy but in a light way.  And let me let you in on a little secret – I don’t really like bacon.  I know, I’m in the minority here.  I would never choose bacon if given the choice of something else.  But in this dish, it just works.  I ate it and liked it.  Craziness.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Penne with Butternut Squash, Bacon and Sage

Recipe for penne with butternut squash, bacon and sage. Bright and fresh pasta with hints of lemon, bacon, sage and cheese.

Did you make this recipe?

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups butternut squash chunks, about ½ inch in size*
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 13 ounces whole wheat pasta
  • ¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 ounces cream cheese (light is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
  • 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ⅓ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 4 to 6 strips bacon, cooked until crispy and chopped into pieces

Directions:

  1. Place a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When hot, add in the butternut squash chunks. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the squash is spotty brown. Transfer the chunks to a bowl and set aside.
  2. With the skillet still over medium heat, add in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, green onions, garlic and nutmeg. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, until the green onions are softened. Add in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Slowly pour in the chicken broth and wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  3. Next, add back in the butternut squash. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the squash is tender and the sauce has thickened a bit. Do not stir often or the squash will start to fall apart.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve about ¼ cup of the cooking water, then drain and set aside.
  5. When the squash is finished cooking, turn off the heat. Add in the parmesan, cream cheese, sage, lemon juice and salt/pepper to taste. Gently stir until combined. Add the pasta to the skillet. Use the reserved cooking water, as needed, to loosen the pasta. Top with the chopped walnuts and bacon.

*I cheated and used pre-cut butternut squash chunks available at our local food store. The original recipe indicates that 1 small butternut squash, about 2 pounds in size, will yield this amount (after it is seeded and cut into chunks).