It’s pumpkin loving me, still here, still going strong, even though it’s November tomorrow. Lots of shock and denial about that going on up in the brain, because November equals the start of the holiday season which equals the start of Big Bad Winterrrr here in Minnesota. I’ve worn my fuzzy hat like five times already this week and my teeth are chattering nonstop.
Basically what happened in this recipe is that everything good about fall went and got all cozy together in a pan just in time for dinner. Caramelized onions make for a rich and velvety pumpkin sauce to blanket that shredded chicken with love. Pasta and cheese hold everything together, and b-a-c-o-n means crispy delicious is up in tha howwwwse.
So but backing up a tad wee bit. I have good news about the Winter thing: pumpkin still tastes good even in November, and it might even taste BETTER in the winter because it warms you to the toes. And it’s especially delicious when used in non-tradish ways like as a sauce for a chicken bacon pumpkin pasta bake. Life is good when this baby is in your oven.
Wait, no, I didn’t mean… NO. This is not me making any awkward announcements.
This IS me being an utter fool for cheesy oven-baked pasta.
And now for the topic of kitchen remodel. Someday soon, I will have a kitchen again. Won’t that be fun? — said in the most genuinely excited, actually-I-mean-it voice ever. I am beside myself with anticipation for the day when I make this again, and many other things requiring use of stove, oven, fridge, and maybe even dishwasher *holla* and take pretty pictures RIGHT ON THE COOKTOP and RIGHT ON THE COUNTERTOP because we now have triple the natural light sources in the kitchen. NO SERIOUSLY TRIPLE. I AM SHOUTING A LOT RIGHT NOW.
Countertops will go in soon, and I can totally wait another two weeks. I totally can. I can I can I cannnnnot! But I can.
These pictures were obviously not taken in the basement, nor was this yummy little number made in the basement, as much as I want it to be. If you could see what the basement really looks like right now, you would see me at a folding table working under mean, harsh, fluorescent lights that flicker – no for real, they flicker – with an obnoxiously strong cinnamony candle burning right next to the computer to try to bring a little good cheer into my life (I already know this is a very bad idea having to do with Hot Wax On Keyboard and yet I continue to let it happen because I’m a rebel child), sporting my old slippers to combat against the icy cold cement floors, and sipping a tea on the other side of the laptop because apparently I am actively seeking out the opportunity to destroy my computer. <– lie. I love my computer. I just equally love candles and tea. Why can’t we all just get along?!?
If you have a kitchen, and if you have a functional stove and oven combo, be blessed by melted cheese and pasta tonight with a fallish pumpkin and caramelized onion sauce and chicken for filling and bacon for delicious. You deserve all the homemade goodness that is packed into that pan. I really mean that and I have no hint of jealousy in my voice whatsoever. None. Negativo. Nada.
I heart your face eating this for dinner.
Chicken Bacon Pumpkin Pasta Bake! Caramelized onions make for a rich and velvety pumpkin sauce to blanket that shredded chicken with love.
For the Pumpkin Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 yellow onion
- a splash of white wine (optional)
- 1 clove garlic
- 18 ounces pumpkin puree (about 2 cups)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons rubbed sage
- a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (or just ground)
- freshly cracked black pepper to taste
For the Pasta:
- 1 lb. uncooked pasta
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup Mozzarella or other white melty cheese
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- crumbled, cooked bacon (as much or little as you want)
- parsley for topping
- Caramelize the onions: Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cut the onion into thin slices and add to the melted butter in the pan. Keeping the heat on medium-low, cook the onions until they are caramelized and deep golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. You can add a splash of white wine as they’re cooking to get a little extra sweetness.
- Make the sauce: Puree the garlic, pumpkin, chicken broth, milk, olive oil, salt, sage, nutmeg, and pepper in a blender until smooth. Add to the caramelized onions in the pan and cook until heated through.
- Prep pasta and chicken: Cook the pasta according to package directions, stopping a little early so they are still firm enough to hold their shape in the oven. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil and add the chicken, cooking for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink. Remove from the water; when cool enough to handle, shred the chicken.
- Assemble and bake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the cooked pasta, chicken, and bacon with the pumpkin sauce and 1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese. Transfer to a greased 9×13 baking dish, top with remaining cheese and cover with greased foil to prevent sticking. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and let stand a few minutes before serving.