Chicken, Butternut Squash Baked Ziti

I love daytime TV — well, I love almost all TV, but back in college when life was easy and my schedule was non existent, I woke up and watched all of my favorite morning TV. It would start would Regis & Kelly (now Kelly & Michael), then the Wendy Williams show, and finish it off with Rachael Ray. College was really when I get into watching the Food Network avidly. My friend sophomore year got me into it, as it was the only channel we could honestly watch non stop all day while laying on the couch, and it would allow us to fantasize about eating nice meals, outside of our pathetic college budget. Ina, Giada & Rachael were my girls. Believe me, you can ask my annoyed boyfriend how often I still watch the Food Network, but now I can watch Rachael on her daytime show. Now that I work from home, if I don’t have a meeting in the morning, my day now includes my favorite daytime TV shows playing quietly in the background while I send emails, and do my busy work. Last week, Rachael had Ryan Scott on, who shared a recipe that caught my eye — Chicken, Butternut Squash Baked Ziti, and I knew I had to make it. Well last night was the night, and it was made with stuff I already had in my pantry, and it really is a light way to eat pasta (was so easy to use whole wheat pasta and you can’t taste a difference). I love anything butternut squash, and it uses the packaged butternut squash soup as the sauce and I luckily always have some on hand.

Chicken, Butternut Squash Baked Ziti

*I altered this recipe as this is meant to serve 6-8 people, and I was only serving 2, so change it based on how many people you are going to serve. 

  • 1 32-ounce carton butternut squash soup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound pre-roasted chicken, shredded
  • 1 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups cooked rigatoni (I used whole wheat pasta)
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 15 sage leaves
  • Salt & Pepper –  I hadn’t added enough during the cooking process and it was needing it while eating, so we added some on top. 
PREPARATION

Preheat to 350°F.

In a medium pot over medium heat, bring butternut squash soup to a boil. Lower heat and reduce, about 15 minutes.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat olive oil. Sauté onion and garlic until translucent and not browned. Stir in Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and chicken, for 2 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, combine Parmesan and breadcrumbs together.

In a 13×9” baking dish, mix butternut squash sauce, half of the ricotta cheese, the rigatoni, and chicken until just combined. Dot with remaining ricotta and spread an even layer of Parmesan bread crumbs over top. Bake until cheese is melted through and breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Crisp sage leaves, about 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel-lined plate.

Crumble sage on top of baked pasta and serve.
I forgot to take pictures – as Eric & I dug in right away, but check out the video on Rachael’s page to see what the results look like!
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