Butternut Squash Chicken Pasta Bake

So for some reason I had a bajillion winter squash in my kitchen (well okay like 8 but still… that’s a lot at one point for a 2-person household).  I had a few butternut squash but didn’t want to do the typical roast with cinnamon/brown sugar and butter.  I wanted something of substance.  Something that had protein and good for you but tasted so sinful. Like any given night, I rummaged through my fridge and found a variety of ingredients, threw it together and literally on the very first bite I was in love!

Now we’re talking that kind of ‘dirty’ love where you feel so guilty about it. You want to tell the world but you keep your mouth closed.  That kind of sinful food where you want to plate a big dish of it, go sit in the back of your closet, behind the golf clubs, lights off and eat it all by yourself.  And to take it one step further.. you’re gonna do it.. lick the plate clean. Yeah, it’s THAT good!

As I’m making this I had already made Mr. Fantabulous dinner.  He had a full belly and went about his merry way.  Well as I was pulling this out of the oven I hear *”sniff sniff sniiiiiiiiiiiiiifffffffffffffff.  Oh honey, what is that?  That smells really good!  Can I have some???” Now remember what I just said… he already had a full dinner.  Literally like 35 minutes ago.  I made the raised eyebrow look and said “Um yeah, sure but aren’t you full?  You just ate!” “Oh that was just a prequel to dinner.  This is the REAL dinner!”.  OMG.. I would KILL for that man’s metabolism!  So I give him a small plate (yeah I got the evil eye for giving him a ‘small plate’) and waited (actually I think I held my breath waiting for his reaction – I tend to do that a lot actually).  He takes a bite, makes a face.. takes another bite and makes another face.  He looks up at me with a puzzled look. “This is kinda like your mac ‘n cheese but not.  It’s different.  This is really, REALLY good honey.  Wow, it’s so creamy! What is it?” So I proceed to give him the lowdown of ingredients (to which he just hears me as Charlie Brown’s teacher “Waa, waa, waa, waa, wahhhhhhhhh..”).  At this point his eyes glaze over and he just looks up at me, back down at his plate, back up at me, back down at his plate and then gave me the ‘HEY I’M REALLY LOOKING AT YOU AND MY PLATE LADY.. WHAT’S MISSING HERE??? DUH IT’S EMPTY!”  Well when I finally told him it had butternut squash in it he was pretty stoked then says out of the blue (as he’s finishing his 2nd plate of his 2nd dinner) “Do I like butternut squash??

Good lord.. that man is going to drive me batty!

With winter squash at it’s peak now I HIGHLY recommend this!  This is a great pot luck dinner OR OR OR if you have leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, you can most certainly use that in lieu of chicken!

Now go make you some!

Now if you wanted to be evil and make it truly devlish.. add bacon!

If you wanted you could easily go all veggie but omitting the chicken (and bacon) and maybe adding in some broccoli, cauliflower and cooked Brussels sprouts.


Butternut Squash Chicken Pasta Bake
 
Author:
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbl olive oil
  • 1 lb cavatappi noodles, cooked
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbl flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup gruyere
  • 1/4 cup fontina
  • 1-2 Tsp fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • *optional – 4-6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Mix the butternut squash in a bowl with the 1 Tbl olive oil, ½ tsp salt and pepper.
  3. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Roast for about an hour or until the squash is extremely tender.
  5. Place in a bowl and mash thoroughly.
  6. While the squash is cooking, season the chicken with 1/2 tsp salt & pepper on each side.
  7. Preheat a skillet over medium heat.
  8. Add in 1 Tbl olive oil.
  9. Add the chicken and cook 7-8 minutes per side (depending on the thickness) or until a thermometer reads 165F.
  10. Set the chicken aside on a plate to rest.
  11. In the same pan the chicken was cooked in, add the butter and shallots.
  12. Cook on low for a few minutes or until the shallots are translucent.
  13. Add in the flour whisking for 1-2 minutes. You want the flour to cook and get almost a slight ‘nutty’ smell.
  14. Add in the milk and squash whisking until thoroughly combined.
  15. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  16. While the squash mixture is cooking slice up the chicken in 1/4” pieces.
  17. Add in the basil, chicken and half of the cheeses.
  18. Stir to combine. If the mixture is too thick, add 1/4 more milk.
  19. Add in the noodles and mix to combine.
  20. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish.
  21. Top with the remaining cheeses.
  22. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the top is slightly browned.
  23. To kick it up a notch, top with crumbled bacon.

 

 

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