3/4 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
3 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes*
8 ounces uncooked mini-penna pasta**
6 hickory-smoked bacon slices
1 cup thinly-sliced shallots or onions
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 cup freshly-grated Parmesan Cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano), divided
* Butternut squash can be easily found in all supermarkets. Beige colored and shaped like a vase or a bell. This is a more watery squash and tastes somewhat similar to sweet potatoes. It has a bulbous end and pale, creamy skin, with a choice, fine-textured, deep-orange flesh with a sweet, nutty flavor. Butternut squash can weigh from 2 to 5 pounds. The oranger the color, the riper, drier, and sweeter the squash.
** You may substitute elbow macaroni, shell pasta, etc. (your choice).
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Lightly coat an 11 x 7-inch baking dish.
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, rosemary, and pepper.
Place squash cubes on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with prepared salt mixture and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the squash is tender and lightly browned; remove from oven and set aside.
Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F.
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and return to pan to keep warm. Learn How To Cook Pasta Properly.
In a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat, cook the bacon slices until crisp; remove cooked bacon from the pan and crumble cooked bacon and set aside. Reserve 1 1/2 teaspoons bacon drippings in the frying pan.
Increase heat to medium-high. Add shallots or onions and saute for approximately 8 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and add squash mixture, crumbled bacon, and shallot or onions; set aside.
In a large pan or pot, combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly with a whisk and bring to a boil and let cook until slightly thick, approximately 1 minute. Remove from heat and add 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Add cooked pasta, tossing well to combine.
Spoon pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with the squash mixture. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese evenly over the top. Bake approximately 10 minutes or until cheese melts and just begins to brown. Remove from oven and serve.
Makes 5 servings.