Kale and Butternut Pasta Bake

Christmas is coming. I hope you don’t feel like you are getting as fat as the proverbial goose. Treats and snacks and parties abound this time of year, which often leads to weight gain. While I don’t think you should go on a “diet” right now or work hard to lose eight, avoiding weight gain is a great goal. Trying to stay balanced is important. I posted last year about some great tips for eating at parties.

The holidays are full of family and friends being together. Food is usually an important part of these get togethers. I remember my mom always trying to avoid meals that required her to spend excessive time in the kitchen for cooking and for clean-up. This dish does require a bit of prep, but it can all be done well ahead of time. It isn’t difficult and will fill up any cold, hungry crowd. Enjoy!

Kale and Butternut Pasta Bake (Serves 6-8)

Kale and Butternut Pasta Bake

5 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash (about 1 small squash)
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon black pepper
12 ounces uncooked whole wheat short pasta (penne or ziti work well)
4 cups chopped kale
2 bacon slices
2 cups thinly sliced onion
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 ounces fat free cream cheese
½ cup shredded smoked Gruyere cheese, divided

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Combine squash, oil, and black pepper in a large bowl; toss well. Arrange squash mixture in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 20-30 minutes or until squash is tender.

3. Cook pasta one minute short of al dente directions on package. Add kale during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta mixture.

4. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble.

5. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

6. Bring 1¾ cups broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Combine remaining ¼ cup broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture and red pepper to broth. Cook 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir in cream cheese and ¼ cup Gruyere until melted and sauce is well combined.

7. Combine squash, pasta mixture, bacon, onion mixture, and sauce in a large bowl; toss gently. Place pasta mixture in a 13×9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with remaining Gruyere cheese. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 311
Protein: 14 g
Fat: 9 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 14 mg
Carbohydrates: 49 g
Fiber: 7 g
Sodium: 222 mg

Recipe Notes: You can use any pasta shape or dark leafy green you want. Regular Gruyere works, but I like how the smoky Gruyere accents the flavor of the bacon. If you can’t find Gruyere, you could substitute another type of Swiss cheese.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

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