This creamy, dreamy, delicious vegan Butternut Squash Pasta Bake for Two topped with a golden, crunchy, herbed breadcrumb crust is one of my favorite weeknight Fall recipes to make and eat. It’s elegant and indulgent enough for date night at home with the kid safely tucked into bed, it requires very little actual work so I can spend more time snuggling with my sweetie, and best of all, it needs fewer than 10 ingredients.
The flavor in this pasta comes mostly from the butternut squash (I had half left over after making this awesome chili with winter veggies) mixed in with some sage and a pinch of nutmeg. This classic flavor combination, although simple, packs a huge punch. I roast the butternut squash first which intensifies its sweet, smooth flavor. Cashew cream makes the pasta creamy and smooth. The breadcrumb topping browns in the oven, turning crispy and savory. It’s the perfect flavor compliment to the pasta.
I love using homemade breadcrumbs for this: I processed a couple of slices of my sourdough sandwich bread. I don’t grind them as fine as the kind you get from the store. I like leaving the crumbs a little large and coarse, which, I think, makes them taste even crunchier when they bake in the oven.
This is also a healthy pasta, filled with Vitamin A and protein and fiber. I used whole wheat pasta for this, but gluten-free pasta or regular pasta would work just as well.
And here’s a secret: although it’s a pasta for two, these are two over-generous servings. If the kids do decide to wake up and join the party, there’ll be plenty to go around.
- 1/2 inch butternut squash peeled and cut into 1/2- cubes (about 2 cups)
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound dry pasta I used rotini but a tubular pasta like rigatoni or even macaroni would be great here
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 4 leaves sage or 1 tsp dry sage
- 1/2 cup cashews soaked for 30 minutes and drained
- For the topping:
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh sage or 1/2 tsp dry
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Mix the butternut squash with some ground black pepper and 1 tsp olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and cook in a preheated, 400 degree oven for 40 minutes.
- Place a large pot of salted water on the stove. When it comes to a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente, per manufacturer's instrucitons.
- While the pasta is cooking, remove the squash to a blender along with the cashews, sage, salt to taste, nutmeg, and 1 1/2 cups of water
- Blend into a very smooth sauce.
- In a large bowl, mix the cooked, drained pasta and the butternut squash sauce and 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
- Place the pasta in a smallish baking dish -- mine is eight inches by four inches and two inches deep. Smooth into a flat layer.
- Make the breadcrumb topping by mixing the breadcrumbs with herbs, olive oil, salt and ground black pepper.
- Spread evenly on top of the pasta.
- Place the pasta in a preheated 350-degree oven and bake 30 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown.
- Serve hot with a salad.
Some squash-y recipes from the archives: