A Winter's Treat: Roasted Squash with Bacon, Kale (of course!) and Farfalle

As you know, there is a little bit of a love affair between my husband and kale at the moment, so when I spotted a "15 Must-Try Kale Recipes" email from Cooking Light in my inbox, I thought, "I should make that for Chris!" (I also thought, "Why am I getting these emails? I have heavy cream, butter and bacon in my fridge at all times.")

There are indeed some great "must-try" recipes, and one of them, the Bacon and Butternut Pasta dish sounded amazing. Especially because its ingredients include kale, bacon, garlic, and pasta -- which I happen to have in stock 24/7. I also love that it calls for crème fraîche which adds a lovely creaminess to a recipe without having to worry about it separating when heated. (If you can't find it, substituting with full-fat sour cream or plain Greek yogurt would be okay.) And, I was thrilled that I could use the gorgeous butternut squash that was sitting on my counter. Score!

However, like most recipes that seem to cross my path, I thought this one needed some tweaks. So, I tweaked. (I used goat cheese instead of gruyere and omitted the flour/white sauce step. And, instead of using chicken broth, I took advantage of the lovely pasta/kale infused water already on the stove.) The result was a delicious, pasta dish that you could serve as a mostly-meatless main course or as a lovely warm winter salad/side dish. If you feel the need to add more cheese, try a sprinkle of smoked cheddar or gouda, but don't overdo it. The flavors are so lovely you don't want to cover them up. And, don't tell Chris, but I think the star of the dish is actually the squash. It really brightens up the dish both in flavor and color. Delish.

Roasted Squash with Bacon, Kale and Farfalle
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 TBS walnut oil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 lb. box of farfalle pasta
1 bunch kale, stems removed, and leaves finely chopped
4-6 slices smoky bacon, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups crème fraîche
4 TBS goat cheese
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Kosher Salt
Ground black pepper

To Do:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Toss the squash, walnut oil, garlic powder and a pinch or two of salt and roast until tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside, but keep oven at 400 degrees.
  • While the squash is roasting, boil the pasta and remove it from the water with a slotted spoon when it is almost al dente. (It will continue to cook in the oven and you don't want it to be mushy.) Keep the water at a boil.
  • Add the kale in batches (if necessary) to the boiling pasta water until the kale turns bright green, about 1 minute, then remove with slotted spoon to a separate bowl/colander from the pasta.
  • Reserve about 3/4 cup of the pasta/kale water.
  • Add the bacon to a large skillet and cook over medium heat. When it starts to crisp, add the garlic and cook until garlic is tender, about 3 minutes more. Add the kale and the reserved water and simmer 1-2 minutes to combine flavors. Remove from heat. 
  • In a large bowl, gently combine the squash, pasta, and kale/bacon/garlic mixture. 
  • Stir in the crème fraîche and crumble in 2 TBS of the goat cheese.
My favorite kind.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste (you might not need to add salt since there's bacon in the mix, but test it) and 1/4 tsp of the nutmeg.
  • Transfer to a large baking dish then dot the top with the remaining goat cheese and nutmeg.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, until browned.
  • Devour.