Laura Leigh Bean
Illustration, Visual Branding + Design
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Butternut Squash and Kale Pasta Bake with Chicken Sausage

Hey Chicago friends, remember how we didn't have a spring? I'm pretty sure this insane, ridiculous, story-book perfect fall we are having totally makes up for it. I'm head over heels for autumn, and my love affair is manifesting itself in embarassingly stereotypical ways. I'm exclusively drinking pumpkin spice lattes. I bought tiny pumpkins for my dining room table. I'm instagramming pictures of the changing leaves. I BOILED A FREAKING CINNAMON STICK. I know! I'm a tragic victim of Pinterest-fueled autumnal hype.

So, I'm just going with it. Tonight, I made a VERY seasonal dinner and it turned out prettyyyy great, so I thought I'd share. 

It was also very easy. Embrace the frozen organic veggies, my friends! Chopping up a butternut squash is one of my top ten least favorite things to do, and I'm pretty sure cleaning kale is up there too. 

And if the goat cheese gives you pause, don't worry. It melts together with everything else and there's only a hint of that sharp, tangy flavor when its all said and done. This is not an overly gooey, stringy, cheesy dish. Instead, the cream sauce just sort of sticks everything together enough so that you taste everything at once and everything on its own ALL AT THE SAME TIME. That makes no sense, you say? Blame the cinnamon fumes.

Recipe below!

Butternut Squash and Kale Pasta Bake with Chicken Sausage

Serves about 6 hungry adults

Prep time - 20 minutes
Bake time - 30  minutes

  • 4 links cooked Italian chicken sausage
  • 1 C onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2.5-3 C cubed cooked butternut squash (I used frozen)
  • 2.5-3 C chopped kale (I used frozen)
  • 1 box of whole wheat penne
  • 1 Tb olive oil + more for drizzlin
  • 1 C Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
  • Goat cheese cream sauce, below

Goat Cheese Cream Sauce
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 15 oz container of light ricotta
  • 1 C chicken stock
  • 1/4 C milk
  • 1 Tb salted butter
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp flour

To start, preheat your oven to 350, boil your (salted!) water and prepare the pasta until it's cooked to al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot.

While your  pasta is cooking, dice your onion and mince up the garlic, then saute it all over medium heat in the olive oil until your mixture is translucent. When the onion and garlic are cooked through, add the kale and butternut squash and mix everything together. Let it cook uncovered for about 10 minutes or until the frozen vegetables have heated through and all of the liquid has evaporated.

To prepare your sauce, combine all ingredients over medium-low heat in a saucepan and slowly whisk together until its totally combined and smooth. Allow the sauce to come to a boil and then take it off the heat from heat. (Note: if it seems VERY thin, add a bit of flour, but you want it to be more liquid-y than less so that as it bakes it stays really creamy!)

Dice the chicken sausage into small pieces.

To the pasta, add your chicken sausage and vegetable mixture. Toss it all together then add your sauce to the pot -- mix lightly, don't squish it all up!

Spray a 13x9" pan with olive oil or canola oil spray, then scoop in your pasta. Smooth it all out into an even layer then sprinkle the panko bread crumbs over the top. Drizzle olive oil lightly over the top, then cover the whole pan with foil.

Bake for 20 minutes covered, then remove the foil for an additional 10 minutes to brown the top.

Eat and enjoy!