Monday, September 24, 2012

Baked rigatoni with butternut squash and goat cheese

Baked pasta is a quick and easy way to elevate a box of pasta into something more than noodles and sauce. This is particularly delicious, with all the flavors of fall.


1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and cut in 1/2 inch cubes
3 tbsp olive oil
1 lb rigatoni
3 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 medium onions, cut in half then sliced thinly crosswise
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
3 cups milk
pinch nutmeg
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs or panko

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss squash cubes with oil, and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet; season with salt. Bake until tender and caramelized, about 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook pasta as directed; drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a medium pan over medium-high heat, cook bacon until crispy. Remove using a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on paper towel. Pour out all but 1-2 tablespoons of fat – enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Add onions, sprinkle with sugar, and cook over medium-high heat until meltingly tender and deeply caramelized, stirring occasionally (about 20 minutes). Stir in balsamic vinegar; set aside.

While onions are caramelizing, make the sauce. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat, cooking until butter smells fragrantly nutty and is a warm brown colour. Whisk in flour and cook 2 minutes. Very slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly. Cook over medium-low heat until sauce thickens, about 8 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

In a very large bowl, toss the pasta with the sauce, roasted squash, bacon, caramelized onions, goat cheese and sage leaves. Transfer to a large baking dish, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake until edges are crispy and breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

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