This creamy butternut squash pasta bake is better than one of the casseroles your mom used to make. Roasted squash, seasonal greens and a creamy sauce hit the spot! Bring back all the childhood flavors with mac and cheese and crock pot roast too!
Growing up, I LOVED casseroles. They are the ultimate comfort food… and I’m a big fan of creamy cheesy goodness : )
This – my love for casseroles – made for a very, very sad day when I realized that the man I married (Mr. Crumbs) wasn’t a fan of casseroles. Goodbye comfort food.
Seriously? I thought to myself. What normal person doesn’t like casseroles?!
I took casseroles out of my meal plans and worked around the need for creamy pasta dishes. They didn’t seem that healthy anyway…until I learned how to make real food.
Why Make Butternut Squash Pasta Bake?
Don’t let the boring name fool you. With two seasonal vegetables, a deliciously rich creamy sauce and BACON, this dish is the epitome of comfort, a la real food style.
There’s nothing canned or boxed or just add water about this casserole. You’ll fuel your family with real food and give them creamy deliciousness in a bowl!
Butternut Squash Pasta Bake Ingredients
The key ingredients below are what make this squash pasta bake slap-yo-mama delicious.
- Butternut Squash. You can use any type of winter squash in this dish. Butternut is naturally a bit sweeter.
- Collard Greens. Collards are CHEAP y’all. And packed with nutrients. I wonder why we don’t eat them more often!
- Pasta. I originally made this recipe with whole wheat pasta, but you can use brown rice pasta, lentil pasta, or any gluten-free pasta if needed.
- Bacon. Don’t skimp on the bacon. This is where the flavor really pops.
- Cheese. I used parmesan cheese for this dish. Shred your own and use the rind to use up all that cheese!
How to Make Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta Bake
You actually need quite a few ingredients for squash pasta bake, but don’t let that scare you! It’s a multitasking meal, so while one thing is going, you’re doing something else. This dish takes about an hour from start to finish, but you could easily make it ahead of time and reheat for dinner if it’s a busy night.
- Roast your squash, cook your pasta (in vegetable broth if you want) and cook your bacon.
- Saute your greens and onions in the bacon grease, and make your creamy sauce.
- Mix it all up in a pan (or dutch oven) and bake!
Frequently Asked Questions about Butternut Squash Pasta Bake
Is Butternut Squash Pasta Bake Vegan?
No. While you can make this vegetarian and gluten-free, this recipe isn’t vegan. You need milk and cheese to make it creamy.
Can I add meat?
Yes! You can mix in pre-cooked shredded chicken. I like to keep all-purpose chicken in my freezer to beef up our meals when needed.
Does this recipe freeze well?
Yes! In fact, if you use a large butternut squash, add up to a pound of collard greens, and a touch more milk in your sauce, you can easily split your recipe into two baking dishes. Cover and freeze one for later!
More Weeknight Pasta Dinners
- Stove-top Mac and Cheese
- Cobb Pasta Salad
- Weeknight Creamy Mushroom Pasta
- Savory Pasta with Bacon, Onions, and Greens
- Pasta Primavera
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1" pieces
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- salt & black pepper to taste
- 1 lb medium whole wheat pasta (rotini or penne)
- 4 slices of bacon, cut into ½" pieces
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 10 oz collard greens, roughly cut into 1" pieces
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup whole wheat flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 Tbsp dried rosemary
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp cayenne or red pepper flakes (optional, but very good - my heat-sensitive child didn't even notice)
- 1 cup half-and-half OR whole milk, if needed
- 4 oz Parmesan, shredded
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Place squash in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Drizzle olive oil over the squash and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta al dente according to the directions on the package. When done, drain and set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until cooked through and crispy. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place in a medium bowl. Leave the grease in the pan and reduce the heat to low.
- Add collard greens, onion and garlic to the bacon grease and cook for 30 minutes or until tender. Add 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil if additional moisture is needed.
- When the greens are no longer bitter and the onions are nearly translucent, remove them from the pan and add to the bowl with the bacon.
- At this point, the cooked squash should be about done. When it is, add it to the bowl with the greens and bacon. Toss gently with a spoon and let cool slightly.
- Reduce oven to 350F.
- To the same pan as the bacon grease, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook for 3-5 minutes, until bubbles form infrequently and the mixture becomes medium golden brown.
- Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook, stirring very often so not to burn the milk, until the mixture is thick and bubbly (about 8-10) minutes.
- Add rosemary, nutmeg, paprika and cayenne, if using, and stir well. Taste and add additional seasoning if desire.
- With the heat on low, add shredded Parmesan, stirring well until mostly melted, then removing from the heat.
- Butter a 9x12 baking dish.
- Layer the cooked noodles on the bottom and pour the squash mixture evenly on top.
- Pour the cream sauce over the entire dish.
- If needed, pour up to an additional cup of half-and-half OR whole milk over the dish to ensure the entire top is covered with sauce or cream.
- Bake uncovered in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the entire dish is warmed through.
What’s your favorite real comfort food? Do you have any favorite non-real comfort food meals that you miss?