Third times a charm with this casserole! A subtle blend of sweet and savory- the roasted butternut squash and creamy sauce boasts a kicked up version of your typical baked mac’n’cheese casserole. This one seems like it would be quite complex, but surprisingly it is simple enough for a weeknight dinner, but worthy for a supper club dinner with friends.
Just for the heck of it, I’ll have you know I almost lost a finger making this casserole. Butternut squash is super viscous and, for lack of a better word, slippery. Even the sharpest of all knives have trouble standing up to the fall veggie.
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash, about 1 lb squash
5 center cut bacon slices, uncooked
1 lb uncooked medium sized shrimp, deveined and tails removed
1 cup thinly sliced shallots, about 3 medium to large
8 ounces uncooked whole wheat rotini (spiral-shaped pasta)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 1% low-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon red pepper (cayenne)
3/4 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425°. Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, rosemary, and pepper. Place squash on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with salt mixture. Bake at 425° for 45 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Increase oven temperature to 450°. Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain well. While pasta cooks, heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat add bacon, cooking until crisp. Remove bacon and reserve 1 1/2 teaspoons bacon fat. Add shallots. Increase heat to medium-high. Sauté 8 minutes or until shallots are tende. Add in shrimp cook until pink. Remove mixture from Dutch oven into a seperate bowl, reserving about 1/4 cup liquid (released from the shrimp during cooking); toss with bacon and set aside. Return oven to cooktop, combine flour and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt over medium-high heat. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add nutmeg, red pepper, and Italian blend cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Add pasta and reserved cooking liquid to cheese mixture, tossing well to combine. Add shrimp mixture and 1/2 of roasted squash. Spoon pasta mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray; top with remaining squash. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown.