Josh’s Butternut and Thyme Creamy Pasta

Do you love gourmet food, but your kids are picky eaters? Do you have kids that won’t even look at their veggies? I created this tasty gourmet dish that will make your entire family’s mouth water. It is certainly a favorite in my home, and my son doesn’t even realize that it contains a vegetable!

I swear, only two weeks ago, one of my friend’s kids said, “this is the best Macaroni & Cheese I’ve ever tasted!” If an adult had said it, I would have been ultimately offended, but it was a fantastic compliment coming from a youngster whose pallet is sometimes hard to please.

Back in my college days (with a little inspiration from one of my sisters) I created this meal to impress a date for homecoming. She wasn’t interested in dating me, but she was definitely interested in this meal. So even though my dating confidence suffered, my cooking confidence grew, and I was inspired to pursue my passion for the culinary arts.

Now, on with the nitty gritty:

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 pint of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 handful of fresh thyme (plucked leaves…no stems)
  • Rigatoni or Ziti Pasta
  • Kosher Salt
  • Ground Pepper
  • 2-3 cups Shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup real butter
  • 2 Tbsp. honey

Directions:

Thoroughly peel the squash with a sharp peeler & cut the squash into small 1 inch squares, then steam until tender. While the squash is steaming, boil the pasta noodles until they are fairly soft. You can test the softness with a fork. The fork should easily mash the squash. Lift up the steamer basket and drain any remaining moisture. Add the squash squares to a large mixing bowl.

While hot, mash the butternut squash, and add the butter and honey. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In the large bowl, blend the squash mixture with the cooked pasta. Add the thyme leaves, the cream, a pinch of Kosher salt & pepper, and most of the mozzarella cheese (save some for the top). Mix thoroughly without damaging the shape of pasta. Pour the mixture into a rectangular casserole dish. A 9×12 dish will work fine. Cover the mixture with a layer of mozzarella cheese (as thick as you want).  Bake on a middle rack for 20-30 minutes, or until the top of the cheese starts to turn golden brown.

Feel free to garnish with fresh herbs and serve with a tasty french baguette.

Bon Appetit! Please leave a comment below if you have some other fun recipes, or if you’ve tried this recipe.

Comments

  1. 1

    That sounds AMAZING JOSH!!! I can’t wait to try it. I have a couple of kids that will try anything, and one in particular that won’t touch veggies or beans with a 10 foot pole! So, I will make this recipet this week and let you know how it fares in our house!!

    • 2
      JoshLovesIt says:

      Sabra, just don’t tell your kids that there are veggies in there. But the butternut squash makes the dish taste more sweet than macaroni & cheese, so your kids will like it more!

  2. 3
    Cristina Fritzsche says:

    Okay, I tried the recipe with my slight healthy changes and it looks like I will need to try it again….Here is what I did and here is how it went right and wrong:

    – I used whole wheat pasta (this was something that worked out just fine) My tip for cooking whole wheat pasta…overcook it, it makes it softer.
    – Instead of cream I used lowfat buttermilk (again this worked out too)
    – I used half the butter called for and used oliveoil smart balance spread instead. (This wasn’t an issue, still had a buttery flavor)

    Here was the issue: I didn’t cook the squash long enough so it was a bit lumpy. I either should have steamed it longer or used my hand mixer to make it creamier. Also, I should have added more honey than I did…I probably only used half of what it called for.

    I will make it again and see. My husband Ryan gave my version a 5 out of 10, bummer for me. He is a tough one to please, I thought it was more of a 7.

    • 4
      JoshLovesIt says:

      Once you perfect it, please let me know what works well! I’d like to feature some healthy recipes on my blog. I’d be happy to feature some of your best healthy recipes & link to your blog! Great tip on the whole wheat pasta…I usually don’t like it, but I’ll give the overcooking a try.

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