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!
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 1/2” pieces
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
10 oz collard greens, roughly cut into 1” pieces
1 white onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups whole milk
1 Tbsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 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 9×12 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.