Thursday, December 12, 2013

Chicken, butternut squash, and spinach skillet pasta bake


I'm behind this week on my posting of something for the 12 Weeks of Winter Squash (Week 6). I was busy with my blogiversary post and giveaway (you can still enter through Friday 12/13) earlier this week, but I was hoping to squeeze in a winter squash recipe before the end of the week.

We had the hugest butternut squash I have even seen. It came from my father-in-law's garden and was just really massive. We used 1/3 of it to make a side dish for Thanksgiving (that produced leftovers) - that's how big it was. So, needless to say, we've been eating a lot of butternut squash. I threw this pasta dish together using a lot of leftovers -- more of the squash, some chicken, a hunk of mozzarella, etc. It was a really satisfying and tasty pasta dish and was a perfect meal for a cold and snowy evening. This dish will feed about 4-6 people, so we had a lot of lunch leftovers (my favorite).


Chicken, butternut squash, and spinach skillet pasta bake
1 lb. short-cut pasta 
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large chicken breast, diced (about 1-1/4 cups)
about 3 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons, freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 packed cups baby spinach
1-1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Start a large pot of salted water to boil for cooking the pasta. When it boils, cook the pasta until it is a couple minutes short of al dente and then drain and set aside.

In an oven-proof skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chicken, and butternut squash. Let cook, stirring often, until the chicken is cooked through and the squash is fork tender. Stir in the cayenne pepper, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and cook until just fragrant. Turn off the heat.

While the chicken/squash are cooking, make the sauce. In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Then whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Continue to cook, whisking often, until the milk begins to thicken, about 15 minutes. Once it thickens, remove from the heat, stir in the 1/3 cup of Parmesan, along with a pinch of salt and a couple grinds of pepper.

Gently stir the cooked pasta and spinach into the skillet and then stir in the sauce. Top with the mozzarella and the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 10-12 minutes.


What was I cooking one year ago?: dates stuffed with cardamom goat cheese and pistachios
Two years ago?: sesame-cranberry cookies
Three?: gingerbread pancakes with clementine-yogurt sauce
4?: rosemary shortbread Christmas tree cookies

18 comments:

  1. Oh, this looks so comforting! And I have a squash-though not the hugest!-sitting on my counter that needs a home. Thanks for giving me this idea!

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  2. Yummm, there is nothing to not like about this pasta

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  3. Such a comforting and delicious meal, Amy.

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  4. What an inviting, scrumptious pasta...I could clean the plate and ask for more!!!!

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  5. Ohh goodness this is all of my favorite things. Looks delicious! I'd add some sweet sausage to it though, I think :)

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  6. I love skillet pasta meals where you can use leftovers and whatever you have in your fridge to make something incredibly delicious and super comforting! Leftovers are the best for lunch too!

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  7. This skillet pasta bakes makes my mouth water!

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  8. This looks amazing Amy, a comfort food, indeed! :)

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  9. I love the sound of this pasta! The perfect cheesy comfort food!

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  10. Look how creamy and delicious that looks! Yummy!

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  11. I want a giant bowl of this pasta on this cold and snowy night!

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  12. Love these one pot wonders...easy, delicious, so good! Thanks for sharing!

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  13. Hi Amy, your pasta look so flavorful. Awesome meal!

    Have a lovely Sunday.

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  14. I haven't made pasta with butternut squash before, but I bought it recently to make pasta with it instead of my ordinary butternut squash. I was planning to "bake" the past but I changed my mind (was going to use roasted butternut squash into the pasta). This sounds much tastier and I will make it tonight!!!

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  15. Gosh, this looks good. I love the combo of squash and pasta. And this is a nice, tasty dish. Good stuff - thanks.

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  16. I love the idea of a pan pasta bake...especially your version with squash, spinach and cheese. Super!!!

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  17. Wow. The moment I seen the image of your dish on Google while searching for recipe's for fish+pasta+spinach, my stomach screamed YES! Eat that! Haha. Honestly I've only ever had butternut squash a couple times without ever thinking to myself..."I need to eat this veggie more". But your recipe looks soooo freaking delicious. I think I'll try to make this. I also love easy cleaning, one-pan cooking. Thanks for sharing.

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