Butternut Squash Pasta Bake

Cold fall nights call for warm, cheesy dinners.

I think it’s funny how as soon as the days get shorter, the air gets cooler, and the leaves start changing, we switch immediately from craving light, summery meals to warm, comforting dinners. How quickly we become obsessed with anything pumpkin. How squash and spices are all we want.

I embrace it though. I love comfort food, I love squash, I love fall! (I just don’t like what comes after fall).

There aren’t many dinners more comforting than cheesy baked pasta. Add some squash and you have the perfect dinner for a cold fall night.

The butternut squash is roasted to maximize flavour, then pureed with thyme (another of fall’s favourite flavours) and layered with pasta and cheese for what is basically squash macaroni and cheese. So much cheese.

It’s a super easy dinner that you can assemble a day ahead and bake right when you need it. It provides a fall day’s serving of cheese and will satisfy your constant squash and spice cravings. And did I mention cheese? It’s excellently cheesy.

Ingredients

1 butternut squash

1-2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 box pasta (orriechette, shells, or fiorelli would work well)

1 medium shallot, diced

sea salt and black pepepr

1/2 cup vegetable broth

3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese

1-1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella

Directions

Roast the squash: preheat oven to 425. Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Place face down in a baking dish and add 1/4 inches of water. Roast until squash is tender, about 45-55 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

While the squash bakes, bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Reduce oven to 375.

Measure out 3 cups  of squash and place in a food processor, along with thyme, shallot, salt and pepper. Pulse until combined, and add vegetable broth. Pulse until smooth.

In a 9×11 baking dish, spread about 1/3 of the squash puree in the bottom. Add half the pasta, and top with remaining squash. Cover with ricotta cheese, add remaining pasta, and top with grated mozzarella.

Bake until cheese is golden, about 25-30 minutes.

Fall’s new favourite comfort food (and yours too!). This dinner is easy, cheesy, perfect for fall!

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