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Sunday, November 01, 2009

November is NaBloPoMo! how many days do you think I'll last???

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For years, I've been hearing about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where participants attempt to write a 50 000 word novel during the month of November. Given that I suck at fiction (and also at lying...as hubs will attest, I am the world's WORST liar), I've never even given participation a second thought. Any novel I would write would be awful. The very idea reminds of the times where I took writing classes in high school. I love writing, but I'm just not all that creative when it comes to plot and character and all the schtuff. I could do description like nobody's business, but just didn't have the creativity to come up with plotlines, etc., that would captivate.

However, the latest thing, if you will, is NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), which is much more up my alley. As the archives of this blog will attest, I am, at best, an infrequent poster. It isn't to say that I don't want to post, or that I don't have anything to say, but I just seem to have a hard time getting stuff from table to web site, if you catch my drift. So I'm going to give this a try. I certainly won't promise that you'll have photos and lovely descriptions every day, because I don't really cook THAT often. But I'll keep you abreast on what I'm eating, where it came from, and whether or not I liked it. Tonight, I made a pot roast for dinner. It sucked. I'm not posting it.

But my dinner earlier this week was FANTASTIC. Like, you know my aversion to leftovers?

I ate this for lunch THREE days in a row (I stole it from hubs!). It was that good. It's so hearty and delicious and wonderful and yummy that you will all be rushing out to make it. I stole the recipe from Cooking Light, but modified it to make it better. It's awesome. Z loved it, hubs loved it and everyone who saw the pic on facebook demanded the recipe. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM...yummy. I doubled the recipe and baked in a 13x9

Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon Pasta


Yield: 5 servings


Ingredients
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (for a doubled recipe, I used 2 small squash and it worked just about perfectly)
Cooking spray
6 sweet hickory-smoked bacon slices (raw)
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
8 ounces uncooked mini penne (tube-shaped pasta)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded sharp provolone cheese (I used 5-year-aged cheddar)
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Preparation
Preheat oven to 425°.

1. Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, rosemary, and pepper. Place squash on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with salt mixture. Bake at 425° for 45 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Increase oven temperature to 450°. This will make your house smell AMAZING.

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2. Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 1/2 teaspoons drippings in pan; crumble bacon.

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Increase heat to medium-high. Add shallots to pan; sauté 8 minutes or until tender. Don't throw out your bacon fat yet!!!

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3. Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain well.

4. Add another 2 T of bacon fat to your shallots (yum!). Combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt and add to the shallots over medium-high heat. Let it cook for a couple of minutes. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add provolone (cheddar is better!!!), stirring until cheese melts. Add pasta to cheese mixture, tossing well to combine. Add bacon and squash and stir gently (or you will mash the squash) Spoon pasta mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown.

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It's so good. YUM. The squash is so rich and with the savoury addition of the rosemary and the smokey bacony goodness...this is the PERFECT fall comfort food. You definitely want to make this ASAFP.

So, here's to day one of NaBloPoMo. Hope we have another fruitful 29 days.

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13 comments:

Not So French Girl said...

I'm totally making this. However, I am at a loss as to how to cook squash. Do you peel it and then cube it?

Thanks for your help!

Heather

bus said...

Your blog post honestly lovely... i really fully enjoyed it..and thanks for Recipe..

Anonymous said...

Yay! A whole month of posts...keep them coming! :)

Adina said...

Do you think it will be as good without the bacon?

Leslie said...

heather - butternut squash is difficult to peel, so it's easier if you microwave it for a couple of minutes (to soften the outside) and then use a vegetable peeler. It's still not EASY. After, you can halve it, clean out the middle, and cube it.

bus and anonymous - thanks!!!!

adina - nope. BUT, there are a couple of pork-free options...you could use turkey bacon, or if you can't combine dairy and meat, you could use a few drops of liquid smoke. I think it needs the smokiness.

Garden Of said...

An ENTIRE month of posts on my FAVORITE BLOG! It is like X-mas came early!!!!!

Lesley said...

I made this on Halloween (found it on your FB, but before I saw this post), and it was at best, meh. I followed recipe exactly and couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong - the roux was lumpy (I made it separately, next time I'll add to shallots like you did), and the final bechamel sauce was just meh. I wasn't in a rush to cook it (between cooking and the constant stream of kiddies at the door, it took 2 hours.. so needless to say I was disappointed with the final result for the amount of time it took to make!)

So upon reading this - I'm going to try your modifications, and try again. I love provolone, but you're right, cheddar would be better. I already have another butternut squash from the grocery store. :) But I usually roast the squash halved, and then peel and cube, but mine never turns out like yours, all smooth and nice. Mine actually turn out kind of mushy and stringy. Should I be peeling & cubing *before* I roast then?

Leslie said...

Garden of - thanks for teh vote of confidence. :)

Lesley - I didn't follow the recipe because I didn't like the roux method and I find provolone is all talk (stench) and no action (flavour). And yep, you have to peel and cube the squash BEFORE roasting or you will have puree. Puree is yummy, but cubes are better for this recipe.

Adina said...

Ohh thanks Leslie - I have a bottle of liquid smoke! I think I will try this tomorrow night!
Can't wait to read your daily entries!

wenderella said...

Perfect timing...I have way too many squash to use up right now (they arrive in the weekly food box and I never know what to do with them - I kinda hate squash). But this recipe looks great. How can you NOT love a dish with bacon in it :D

Thanks.

Laurie said...

Made this tonight for dinner. Both the girls and my husband LOVED it (as did I!). Only thing I did was add some leeks to the shallots because I had some that needed to be used up. Combination of flavours is a beautiful thing. Thanks for a great recipe.

Not So French Girl said...

Delicious! I found the squash to be very labour intensive, though I am the slowest cook on Earth. Cooking with bacon fat is sort awesome, but dangerous knowledge :)

Our Life With Two Boys said...

i made it tonight and it turned out perfectly... everyone loved it...

i used turkey bacon, but i agree that the original provolone was lackluster... next time, i'll definitely use a sharper cheese to give that extra oomph...

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