BUTTERNUT AND KALE CASSEROLE WITH SUN DRIED TOMATO CREAM, FETA, AND BACON

Ingredients

40 ounces butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1” dice

1 ¼ teaspoons salt, divided

½ teaspoon black pepper, divided

1 teaspoon Dish off the Block Ciao Bella Italian Spice Blend

¼ cup olive oil

5 slices bacon

1, 4.9 ounce jar sun dried tomatoes in oil

2 cups leeks, white and light green parts chopped

8 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon flour

1 pint heavy cream

⅓ cup grated parmesan

5 ounces baby kale

6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Spray a 9” x 13” baking dish with non-stick spray.

Spread the cubed butternut squash on the baking sheet and season with ¾ teaspoon of the salt, ¼ teaspoon of the black pepper, and the Ciao Bella Italian seasoning.  Drizzle the olive oil over the top and toss until the squash is evenly coated.  Bake for 15 minutes and toss again so the squash cooks evenly.  Bake for 10-15 minutes more until the squash is fork tender.  Set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Place the bacon strips in a large deep skillet and cook over medium high heat until it is crisp.  Remove to a plate lined with paper towels and let cool.  Chop and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon of the sun dried tomato oil from the jar to the pan drippings.  Cook the leeks and garlic over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the flour and cook for 1 more minute.  Add the heavy cream and parmesan to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.

Drain the sun dried tomatoes in a fine mesh sieve and chop them into ½” pieces or julienne.  Add them to the sauce along with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper.  Stir to combine.

Combine the cooked squash the baby kale in the prepared baking dish and toss until the squash and kale are evenly distributed.  Pour the sauce evenly over the casserole.  Top with the crumbled feta followed by the chopped bacon.  Bake the casserole for 15-20 minutes until bubbly and the feta is lightly browned.  Garnish with chopped parsley and devour!

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