Butternut and cheesy pasta belong together like whoa.
Add jalapenos on top and I could make out with you. You know, if it wasn’t a pandemic.
You start by sauteeing the butternut squash in some cumin and red pepper flakes to get a smoky, spicy vibe going.
Then add some broth and simmer the squash until really tender. In my experience, it’s really hard to get it super soft by sauteeing alone so YES this step is necessary.
Mash about half of the squash in the pan to make your sauce, then toss with parmesan cheese and baby spinach. The heat of the pan will wilt the spinach all by itself, no effort required.
While all this craziness is going on, cook your pasta! It’s going to go into the oven for a bit of a bake, so leave it a little al dente if you don’t want to be eating pasta mush.
If you do, well.
Drain the pasta, give it a big stir into the butternut mix, and then top it with MORE CHEESE and loads of jalapeno slices. As many as you can tolerate.
Pop in the oven and bake until the cheese gets all melty gooey.
Oh so good. Totally weeknight friendly and kid approved (if you pick off the jalapeno slices, ahem).
And did I mention this is a one pot meal?!
You’re swooning. I can feel it.
- kosher salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 (2.5 lb) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 tbsp cumin
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 lb penne
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 5 oz baby spinach
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella, torn into chunks
- 1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
- Heat oven to 400F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, cook the pasta until al dente or a minute or two less than the package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the squash to the pan. Add cumin, red pepper flakes, and salt, to taste. Saute, stirring frequently, until the squash is just-tender, about 8 minutes.
- Add the broth to the pan with the squash and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes or until the squash is quite soft. Remove from the heat and use a potato masher to crush half of the squash, leaving the rest chunky. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- Add the cooked pasta to the skillet along with the reserved pasta water and ½ cup of the parmesan cheese. Stir to combine. Add in the spinach and stir until wilted.
- Sprinkle the top of the pasta with the remaining ¼ cup parmesan cheese, the mozzarella, and the jalapeno slices. Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and browned. Serve warm.