This fall, some of our CSA boxes have had different types of kale. Kale, a vegetable I had heard lots about, but was unfamiliar with until recently, is all kinds of healthy, and considered to be a power food in terms of health benefits. Not only does it have a plethora of cancer fighting antioxidants, but it's also rich in nutrients that support eye health, and helps to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. It doesn't hurt that the world is on board, and there are an over-abundance of recipes at our fingertips that use this popular veggie.
In a recent CSA box, T and I were excited to find Portuguese Kale - a type not typically available in the U.S. I had thought about making a traditional Portuguese Caldo Verde (green soup), but after seeing some unappealing photographs, decided it just didn't look appetizing enough for me to get excited about testing out that specific international recipe. On the other hand, I also had a big beautiful butternut squash perching on the counter staring me down, so instead, I opted for a healthy untraditional 'comfort food' casserole, and never looked back.
|Recipe adapted from Cooking Light|
BACON AND BUTTERNUT PASTA WITH KALE | Yield: 8 servings | Prep: 1 hr. | Total Time: 2 hr. 15 min.
5 C peeled, cubed butternut squash (1 Large squash in bite-sized cubes)
1 Tbsp olive oil
12 oz uncooked ziti, rigatoni, or other short pasta
4 C chopped kale (1 bunch - whatever type you have on hand will work)
6 bacon slices, crumbled
2 C vertically sliced onion
1 tsp kosher salt
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 C fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp crème fraîche
1/3 C shredded Swiss cheese
NOTE: Crème fraîche is usually found near the heavy cream, half & half, and whipping cream at the grocery store. If you are unable to find it, it can be homemade 12 hrs. in advance using a mix of heavy cream and buttermilk, and stored for up to one week in the refrigerator. Click HERE for the recipe.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cube squash into bite-sized pieces. Toss with olive oil to coat, and arrange in a single layer on an aluminum covered baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, or until squash is tender (roasting the squash prior to mixing with the other ingredients will help it to maintain the cubed shape without breaking apart).
NOTE: This will be the most time consuming portion of the entire recipe. If you have any tips for easy ways to peel uncooked butternut squash, by all means PLEASE SHARE.
Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 tsp salt and garlic; cook 1 minute.
Cook pasta 7 minutes, or until almost al dente, do not add extra salt. Add chopped kale to pan during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta mixture.
Bring 1 3/4 C broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Combine remaining 1/4 C broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture, remaining 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper to broth. Cook 2 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir in crème fraîche.
Combine squash, pasta mixture, bacon, onion mixture, and sauce in a large bowl, tossing gently to coat. Place pasta mixture in a 9x13" glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with swiss cheese, and bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes until bubbly and cheese is slightly browned.
This recipe was absolutely delicious, and the flavors melded together wonderfully. On another positive note, the recipe made enough that I was able to freeze some to pull out later for a quick meal!
Have you jumped onboard the kale train?