Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Healthy butternut and sausage chili mac

A healthy new twist on the classic chili mac dinner with butternut squash, sausage and kale, served Cincinnati-chili-style over pasta.

Healthy butternut squash, sausage and kale chili mac, served Cincinnati chili style over pasta

Now that we've put the pumpkinpalooza frenzy behind us for another year, it's time to talk about other delicious fall flavors. Like butternut squash. Fortunately for Mr. Ninj and the rest of you that have "texture issues" with squash (insert eye roll here), butternut squash pairs extraordinarily well with sausage.

And bacon. But that's a whole different post. Today we're focusing on butternut with sausage.

I'm calling this dish "chili mac" because it's a bit hard to classify: too hearty to be simply pasta with sauce yet not saucy enough to be chili. I'm also describing it as "Cincinnati chili style", so I hope you're familiar with Cincinnati's slightly offbeat way of eating chili served over spaghetti.

What I can tell you without any waffling is that this chili mac is pure fall awesomeness, thanks in large part to the sweet, seasonal butternut squash, which, in my opinion, is so much better than its cousin the pumpkinSuch a shame that the pumpkin gets the lion's share of the love and props. I bet a butternut-spice latte would be just as awesome. (Note to self: Next year, create a butternut-spice latte.)

I have seriously fallen in love with this chili mac -- I can't stop making it and, when I do, I can't stop eating it. Have you ever made a dish that gets you really excited for leftovers the next day? This is one of those dishes.

And, because it's how The Ninj rolls in her quest to show you that eating healthy can be quick and easy, this butternut and sausage chili mac takes less than a half an hour to prepare.

Yes: Right now, you're less than 30 minutes away from a healthy, filling and amazingly yummy dinner that tastes perfectly in season.


Are you a butternut squash fan, too? Would you drink my butternut-spice latte next year? Leave a comment: The Ninj wants to know.

A healthy new chili mac dinner: butternut squash, sausage and kale, served Cincinnati-chili-style over pasta

Healthy Butternut and Sausage Chili Mac

A healthy new chili mac dinner with butternut squash, sausage and kale, served Cincinnati-chili-style over pasta

12 ounces dried pasta
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound hot Italian sausage, removed from casings
2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chicken stock
4 cups coarsely chopped kale

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.

While pasta cooks, heat the oil a large pot over medium heat; add the sausage and cook, using a spoon to crumble, until browned, then remove from pot and set aside. Add the squash, onion and garlic to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes. Next add the tomato paste, flour, salt and pepper, stirring continually for about 1 minute. Add the stock and gradually bring the mixture to a boil, cooking for another few minutes until the squash is just tender when pierced with a fork. Add the kale and cook until it just begins to wilt (don't overcook it!), then return the sausage to the pot. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

Serve the sausage mixture over the pasta, Cincinnati chili-style.

-- print recipe --


  1. Wow does THAT look good! Love how you worked some kale into this recipe, too. We're adding butternut and sausage to our shopping list right this minute.

    We're going to share this link on our social media so everyone can see your lovely photos and your recipe.

    Keep it green!

    --Your friendly Southern California farmers at Cut 'N Clean Greens

  2. It is definitely the season for hearty sausage and winter squash! This sounds like the best thing to eat on a chilly night. :)

  3. Love this Ninj! Such a perfect fall comfort meal! Pinning :)