Ziti with Butternut Squash Sauce, Rapini, and Bacon Gremolata
Rapini (broccoli rabe) is a cruciferous vegetable with a slightly bitter flavor.It’s a nice contrast to the sweet, mild squash. Gremolata is an Italian garnishof chopped parsley, garlic, and lemon peel, but ours features chopped rapini leavesand smoky bacon. Roasting the squash concentrates the flavor and firms the texture.To calculate the nutrition of four side-dish portions, just cut the numbers in half.
- 2 main-course servings
- 1 21/2-pound butternut squash, cut lengthwise in half, seeds scooped out
- 1 slice applewood smoked bacon (Neuske)
- 5 rapini stalks (or more), plus 11/2 tablespoons finely chopped rapini leaves
- 7-ounce package Miracle Noodle Ziti
- 1/3 cup Miracle Noodle Ziti (1 ounce)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (Spice Islands brand)
- 1 15- to 16-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (Hunt’s), drained, juices reserved Pinch of ground allspice
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with foil; coat with nonstick spray. Place 1 squash half, cut side down, on foil. Pierce the skin all over (reserve remaining half for another use). Roast squash 1 hour 15 minutes, or until very tender. Turn squash over and cool.
- Meanwhile, cook the bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Cool; chop bacon finely. Combine bacon and 11/2 tablespoons chopped rapini leaves for gremolata. Pull leaves from 5 (or more) rapini stalks and reserve. Cut enough stalks with florets on diagonal into ½-inch-long pieces to measure 2 cups.
- Cook Miracle Noodle ziti according to package directions. In another large saucepan, cook rapini stalks in boiling, salted water 11/2 minutes. Mix in reserved leaves; boil 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer rapini to a sieve and drain well. Add ziti pasta to same water. Cook 11 minutes, or until tender but still firm to bite. Drain well.
- Melt butter in the same large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper. Stir 30 seconds. Add rapini and generous sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss 30 seconds longer. Set aside.
- Wipe bacon drippings from skillet. Pack a 1 cup measure with roasted squash (about 8 ounces). Add to skillet. Mash in ½ cup tomato juices (mixture may not be smooth). Mix in 2 tablespoons drained tomatoes, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and allspice. Mix Miracle noodle ziti and ziti pasta into sauce. Toss over medium-low heat until warmed through. Mix in rapini. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired. Divide pasta between 2 bowls. Sprinkle with gremolata.