Pasta with Bacon, Butternut Squash and Sage for Two
Butternut squash and sage are two ingredients that say winter to me and I love them both, but together they are a marriage made in heaven! Add bacon and you’ve got a happy little family of yummy flavors!
Cooking the sage in the rendered bacon fat makes the perfect herb infused oil for sauteing the squash.
There are a few tricks to coaxing the most flavor out of butternut squash and one is caramelizing it. It helps to dry out some of the wateriness of the squash and brings out some of its inherent sweetness, adding butter and sugar help to bring out the sweet nutty notes of the squash even more.
The scallions add some brightness to the dish and the nutmeg adds just the right spice or earthiness to the dish. Adding parmesan and a little lemon juice at the end along with toasted almonds for some textural crunch really brings the whole dish together!
- 4 slices bacon, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
- 4 large fresh sage leaves, plus 1 tablespoon minced
- 1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 scallions, sliced thin (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Table salt and ground black pepper
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 pound penne or other short, tubular pasta
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- Cook bacon in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove bacon and reserve.
- Cook whole sage leaves in rendered fat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove sage leaves and reserve.
- Return infused bacon fat in skillet and turn to high heat adding olive oil to make one TBSP of oil if needed and heat until shimmering.
- Add squash in even layer and cook, without stirring, until beginning to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until spotty brown, 3-4 minutes longer.
- Add butter and allow to melt, about 30 seconds. Add scallions, nutmeg, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, and minced sage; cook, stirring occasionally, until scallions are softened, about 3 minutes.
- Add broth and bring to simmer; continue to cook 1-3 mintues or until squash is tender,
- Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta. Cook until just al dente, then drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water, and transfer back to Dutch oven.
- Add squash mixture to pasta; stir in 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and reserved bacon-sage mixture, adjusting consistency with reserved pasta liquid. Serve with the sliced almonds and more parmesan cheese.
- I double this recipe for company!