Blanco Fake Bake

One of our favorite quick go-to meals is a fake bake pasta and sweet Italian sausage dish. We don't make it a whole lot though because it's not terribly healthy. We are big believers in all things in moderation and since it has a fairly simple ingredient list we keep it in our rotation. Recently our CSA shared a butternut squash and sweet Italian sausage penne recipe. I was definitely intrigued with it but wanted to jazz it up a little bit. So I decided to use it as inspiration for a Blanco Fake Bake and put a twist on one of our favorite dishes. Instead of tomato sauce there's a cheesy bechamel sauce to tie everything together. I also added some kale to this one! Everything comes together in a broiler safe pan and I used the same pot for making the bechamel sauce as boiling the pasta which means I only got two pans/pots dirty for this! There was quite a bit of prep (hello peeling and dicing butternut squash) but after everything was prepped the dish cooked itself quickly.

Blanco Fake Bake
   Serves 4-6 
1 lb sweet Italian sausage
1 medium onion, diced
1 butternut squash, 1/2" chunks
Salt and pepper
2 garlic gloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh oregano
2 cups kale, stems removed and chopped
8 oz mozzarella, 1" chunks
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup parmesan
1/2 pound whole wheat penne

   Start a pot of boiling water for pasta. Saute sausage in large saute pan (ideally broiler safe). Once crumbled and lightly browned add onion and butternut squash. Add salt and pepper and stir everything together. Place lid on pan to allow steam top cook the butternut squash. Meanwhile boil pasta according to package directions (the time it takes to cook the pasta should be good for the squash to soften).
   After the pasta is done, drain and toss with a tablespoon of evoo. Set aside. Turn the heat down on the sausage-butternut mixture and stir in garlic and oregano. In the now empty pasta pot prepare the bechamel sauce. Melt butter and then stir in flour. Whisk until flour is incorporated. After 1 minute slowly whisk in milk. Once the mixture is whisked together let simmer and thicken 2-3 minutes. Add in parmesan cheese.
   Assemble the pasta dish. Turn on the broiler. To the saute pan with the sausage-squash mixture add the bechamel sauce, pasta, kale, and mozzarella. Stir together. If you do not have a broiler safe saute pan put the pasta mixture into a broiler safe casserole dish. Place under broiler for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and browned. Serve immediately.

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