Butternut Squash Pasta

I am, admittedly, a huge fan of butternut squash. So a pasta dish centered around the humble gourd is not a hard sell for me. Throw in a bunch of cheese and top with crisp bacon? Yeah, be still my heart.

I love how butternut squash is so adaptable. I don’t want to go so far as to say bland because that would just be rude. But really, this little vegetable is extraordinary, in my book, because it so easily and willingly takes on the flavors of a variety of different recipes. That’s pretty selfless. No trying to be bleu cheese or capers and steal the show, if you know what I mean.

In this pasta dish, the squash is pureed (totally a do-in-advance option to speed things up) and lightly simmered with the simplest of ingredients: a bit of garlic, pinch of sage, and sharp, flavorful cheese(s). You can use any variety of noodle here – try it with elbow noodles and you could get away with calling this squashy mac and cheese. That’d be kind of cool (or so says my kids).

Butternut Squash Pasta

The end result is tender noodles lightly covered in the creamy, yummy, cheesy sauce. There’s a hint of the butternut’s unique texture but it works really well with the pasta and cheese and bacon. I’ve also given a few pointers in the notes of the recipe for options if you aren’t starting with a whole squash (think: using those handy dandy packages of already cubed butternut squash I just spied in the store; nearly did a bad cartwheel I was so excited).

Very satisfying, very delicious, very doable – this simple butternut squash pasta dish is a fast favorite.

What To ServeSteamed or roasted broccoli or other vegetable (these Skillet Green Beans are great)
Green Salad (throw it together or use a more formal version like this Gourmet Green Salad)

One Year Ago: Apple Crumb Pie
Two Years Ago: Pumpkin Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread with Vanilla Glaze
Three Years Ago: Monster Cookies

Cheesy Butternut Squash Pasta with Bacon

Yield: Serves 6

Cheesy Butternut Squash Pasta with Bacon

For a true macaroni and cheese, sub out the fettuccine noodles for elbow macaroni. If you are working with already cubed butternut squash (like you can find in some produce sections), roast it on a sheet pan in the oven until soft and then puree. You want 2 1/2 cups butternut squash puree total. The squash puree can be prepared a couple days ahead of time and refrigerated.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash, halved, seeds and pulp discarded
  • 12 ounces fettuccine pasta
  • 6-8 strips bacon, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Pinch of ground sage
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the butternut squash cut side down on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Add 1 1/2 cups water to the pan (it's easiest to add the water when the pan is already on the oven rack) and bake for about 40-45 minutes until the squash is tender. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for a bit (say, 10 minutes or so).
  2. When cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh out of the squash halves and discard the skin. Puree the squash in a blender or food processor until smooth. You'll need at least 2 1/2 cups puree for this recipe.
  3. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water in a small bowl right before draining! Drain the pasta and set aside.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, cook the bacon in a large, nonstick skillet until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and drain all but 1 teaspoon grease from the skillet. Add the garlic and stirring constantly, cook briefly, about 30 seconds. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of the squash puree (reserve any remaining for another use) with the ground sage. Stir in the milk, broth, and 1/2 cup of the pasta water and bring the mixture to a low simmer.
  5. One small handful at a time, add the cheddar cheeses, letting each addition melt before adding more. Add salt and pepper to taste (will depend on how salted your pasta water is; taste and add more if needed). Add the cooked pasta noodles and toss so the noodles are evenly coated with the sauce. Add any remaining pasta water if the sauce needs to be thinned out a bit.
  6. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and reserved bacon and serve immediately.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/butternut-squash-pasta-with-cheese/

Recipe Source: inspired by a recipe in Cuisine at Home October 2014 (took their version and turned it around for a noodles and cheese dish; changed up most of the ingredients, adding and subbing out)

28 Responses to Cheesy Butternut Squash Pasta with Bacon

  1. Jeanne says:

    Beautiful sauce! Serve over squid ink pasta for a nice orange and black Halloween dinner.

  2. Erin says:

    Oh.Mah. Gawd. I must have this.

  3. Dani says:

    This looks great! Reminds me of this pasta and squash combo that I found a couple of years ago and highly recommend: http://www.evilshenanigans.com/2009/10/creamy-pasta-with-butternut-squash/. I will follow gruyere cheese anywhere!

  4. Carolyn says:

    This recipe looks great! I have one question about the cheddar cheese – it is listed twice, once as white, the other as sharp. I love me some cheese, but that seems like an awful lot 🙂 Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Carolyn – it’s listed correctly in the recipe; I use 1 cup of sharp orange cheddar and 1 cup of white cheddar (usually sharp). You could always cut back on the cheese if you want to try it less cheesy.

  5. Char says:

    We love squash but I’ve never thought about using it in this way.
    This recipe looks and sounds delicious! I’ll definitely make it!

  6. Was literally just trying to figure out what to make for dinner and now I know. This looks so good!
    One question about leftovers – better to save pasta and sauce separately in the fridge, or can I combine them?

    • Mel says:

      Good question, Leah. If you can refrigerate separately that’s probably the way to go. I kept the leftovers combined and while still tasty, they were not quite as saucy when warmed up the next day.

      • Hi Mel,

        Thanks for the response! I made this last week but forgot to update here. It was absolutely delicious! Even my husband who’s not into squash liked it. I did “vegetarianize” it by using vegetable broth and omitting the bacon, and it came out wonderfully.

        Per your suggestion, I kept them separate, which was also helpful since the pasta could be used for something else.

  7. I, admittedly, am NOT a huge fan of butternut, but I have been forcing it lately (oh, the vitamins!) BUT, you make it look good! Thanks, lady! 🙂

  8. Carol says:

    Yumm! I have started growing butternut squash in my garden. We love your Chicken Enchilada Soup recipe, but we got a dozen butternut squash this year. I have shared a few around, but now I have another recipe to try out. I think my 3 year old will LOVE this one. (And me and my husband too). Thanks for the great recipes!

  9. Thank you. We had a HUGE crop of winter squash this year and I’m looking for new recipes.I’m making another pasta, bacon, roasted squash in a cheesy sauce tomorrow. I’ll give this one a try soon 🙂

  10. Kim in MD says:

    Yum! I love everything about this dish!

  11. That looks stunning! Very sneaky vegetables getting in there, too!

  12. Christine says:

    I love butternut squash. Butternut squash soup in the fall/winter is absolute perfection to me. My two year old won’t eat soup so when we have it I just mix the soup with some shredded cheese and put it over pasta and tell him it’s macaroni and cheese. He gobbles it up!

    I also recently made a butternut squash lasagna that was amazing. I made a sauce by just boiling butternut squash till soft, the. Draining and pureeing with some garlic, salt and pepper, Parmesan, and a little half and half (also some reserved water to thin it). Then the lasagna was that layered with a ricotta and spinach mixture and lots of shredded mozzarella. I don’t even like ricotta and I was dying over how yummy it was. It was gone pretty fast. Anyway I’m a new convert to butternut squash as pasta sauce but it is so so good!

  13. Melissa says:

    I just made this today and it turned out really well…it has such delicate flavours and although I used spaghetti, the sauce coated the pasta very well and it was delicious. A very nice change from meat sauce and the bacon was a nice touch to the dish. Thank you for the awesome recipe!

  14. Meggan says:

    Do you add the water directly into the pan with the butternut squash? I’m not sure if I have misread it or if it goes in a waterbath, with the pan inside another pan of water.

  15. Kas Miller says:

    This was delicious! It’s definitely one of my favorite pasta dishes. Made this last night and my 3 teens loved it as well. The only change I made was using Monterey jack instead of white cheddar as I couldn’t find any and added peas. Will definitely make again. Thanks Mel!

  16. Lindsay says:

    Yum! Bacon and squash! can’t go wrong. I’ll be trying this soon. I have 3 butternut squash on my counter waiting to be used.

  17. Natalie Feller says:

    This was very yummy. Thanks for much for helping me find a way to use all of our butternut squash!

    Can’t wait to make it for my daughter while she is home for Christmas.

  18. Janie says:

    This was included in the “No-oven recipes” and the first step is to preheat the oven? Fix your list.

  19. Kim Anderson says:

    This looks amazing! Thank you for sharing this with us.

    BTW, when I visit your site, an Adobe Flash Player error keeps popping up. I am not sure if others are having this same problem?

  20. Heidi H. says:

    Um, yum!! This turned out sooo good!! We had some left over Prego mozzarella sauce that I added instead of the white cheddar and it was still awesome! I also cut an onion and just sautéed it with the squash instead of roasting, and pureed it together. Thanks for an amazing and a little unusual pasta sauce! 😀

  21. Ava says:

    So yummy. I hope I can pull a fast one on the kids and get them to eat it…

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