When it comes to pasta dishes, the creamier and cheesier the better. I like my sauce flavors a little more hearty, especially when trying to incorporate some of my favorite fall ingredients. Butternut squash has quickly become one of my go to veggies as some as October hits. I love how creamy it becomes when blended and the nutty flavor is the perfect way to say good bye to summer and hello to fall. I could easily eat this butternut squash mac & cheese bake sans turkey sausage, but the spicy flavors in the ground turkey really take this dish to the next level. There nothing to dislike about this dish, you can even trick your family into eating kale. Yes, you heard me correctly, there is kale in this recipe and the flavors are so delicious that you won’t even realize how many nutrients are in this simple dish.
4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (about 1 large squash)
1 and 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 and 1/4 cups milk
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 pound uncooked whole wheat penne pasta
2 cups kale, roughly chopped with stems discarded
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 and 1/2 heaping cups shredded cheese
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
5 spicy Italian turkey sausage links, cooked and sliced
Combine the squash, chicken broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. You want the squash very tender, so pierce it with a fork to make sure it is quite soft. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375°F. While squash is simmering, boil a large pot of water then add a pinch of salt and the pasta. Cook the pasta just until al dente. Add the kale, and cook for another minute or two. Drain the pasta and kale. Set aside.
Pour the warm butternut squash mixture (squash + liquid) into a blender. Add the yogurt, salt, and pepper. Secure the lid and blend until smooth. Pour into a very large bowl and stir in the cheese until combined. It’s ok if the cheese does not fully melt. Taste the sauce– if you’d like more salt/pepper/garlic, add more.
Add the pasta and kale to the bowl and stir until combined. Pour everything into a large casserole dish, a 9×13 baking pan, or a 12-inch oven-safe skillet. Top with breadcrumbs and an extra sprinkle of cheese, if desired.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly on the sides.
Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction.