It’s been a beautiful fall, but the temperatures are dropping which means this California gal is layering an extra sweatshirt or sweater these days. Another ingenious way to keep warm at home is by cranking up the oven to 450 degrees F and roasting some vegetables. It not only heats the room but fills the air with fragrant smells of carmelized vegetables. Now that’s warmth to the soul. I’m especially fond of butternut squash when it’s roasted with olive oil, herbs and a dash of salt. This dish features the squash but also boasts a magnificent combination of chicken, bacon, kale, pine nuts and pasta all melded into one delicious entree.
There’s so much to love about this dish and it all begins by cooking a few slices of wonderful bacon. I’ve been buying thick center-cut slices which are flavorful and much less fat than thinner bacon. I saute the onions and garlic and deglaze the pan with a small amount of chicken broth. This adds a ton of flavor so don’t skip that part. Then the stars of the show are added to the skillet. First comes the kale followed by the chicken and the roasted butternut squash.
All three of these ingredients are all-stars in the nutrition world. Kale is probably the most nutritious food on the planet alongside broccoli and spinach but butternut squash is right up there in vitamin A, potassium and folic acid content. And of course, chicken is tops in protein, boasting one of the highest protein density ratios in the animal kingdom (that is, most protein per calorie).
It all goes on top of Italian Cavatappi, a curly type pasta which is as much fun to look at as it is to eat. Top with the sliced bacon and roasted pine nuts for a delicious fall entree everyone will love. Although not pictured, I often add shaved Parmesan or feta cheese for a little flavor touch.
So when it’s cold outside . . . roast some vegetables!
- Chicken, Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Pasta
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, cut in half, seeds removed and cut up into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 pound Italian Cavatappi pasta
- 6 thick slices center-cut bacon
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chicken broth (I use Better Than Boullion chicken base)
- 4 cups kale, stems removed and coarsely sliced
- 2 cups cooked and diced chicken
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Toss squash cubes with olive oil, salt and Herbes de Provence. Place on a baking sheet and roast, uncovered until tender, about 35-40 minutes. Meanwhile cook pasta according to package directions; reserve some pasta water, then drain and set aside.
- Arrange bacon in a large skillet placed over medium-high heat. Cook until crispy on both sides. Remove from skillet and drain on a paper towel. Slice bacon and set aside.
- Pour off excess bacon fat, but do not wipe out skillet. Add onions and garlic and cook until soft and translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add chicken broth and kale. Cook until kale begins to wilt, about 2 to 3 minutes more, scraping off the bottom of the skillet. Stir in chicken, roasted squash, thinning with reserved pasta water if necessary.
- Serve the chicken mixture over the pasta and top with chopped bacon, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.
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