Bacon butternut squash pasta is a quick and simple pasta dish that is so delicious! You can make the butternut squash hash part ahead of time for meal prep, and then make the pasta the day you want to serve it.
Bacon butternut squash pasta
There's nothing more I love than coming home from a long day, and having a cozy pasta dinner waiting for me. I've developed this trick for making a delicious hash, and stirring it into hot pasta just before serving. It's an awesome way to get a comforting, hot meal on the table with such little effort.
If you meal plan, saute the bacon, butter, onion and butternut squash. When everything is tender and the bacon is crisp, stir in the thyme. At this point, you can remove it from the heat and pour it into a storage container. Refrigerate the hash until the night you cook the pasta. The hot pasta plus extra pasta cooking water will warm everything back up, and make for an easy dinner.
If you love easy pasta recipes, you should also try my chicken bacon pasta, because everything is made in the same pan!
Ingredients for butternut squash pasta:
- bacon: The best bacon for adding to a dish is thick-cut bacon, especially black pepper bacon.
- butternut squash: We need 2 cups of small-diced butternut squash; either buy a small squash or buy it pre-chopped from the store.
- salt and pepper
- fresh thyme: Five sprigs of fresh thyme for the hash.
- short-cut pasta: I used whole wheat penne for this dish, but any short cut pasta works. I love pasta with ridges for soaking up the sauce.
- aged cheddar: A small amount of sharp aged cheddar really makes the flavors sing in this dish. You can use Parmesan cheese in its place, if you like.
How to make bacon butternut squash pasta:
- First, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain while reserving some pasta water for the final dish.
- In a large cast iron skillet, add the bacon pieces that have been cut into 1-inch pieces (also called lardons). Cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring frequently.
- Once the bacon pieces are starting to crisp up and they're released a lot of their fat, it's time to add the remaining ingredients to the pan. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the butter, diced onion, and diced butternut squash.
- Let the mixture cook until the squash is tender and the onions are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, and thyme sprigs about half way through. Lower the heat and add small splashes of water (or dry white wine), if it threatens to burn.
- When the squash and onions are done, and everything looks lovely and golden brown, add it to a large bowl. Toss the hot pasta with the butternut squash mixture, adding the cheese, remaining one tablespoon of butter and reserved pasta water until a silky sauce forms that coats all of the pasta.
Such a delicious, cozy meal! Another meat pasta dish you would love is my Philly Cheesesteak Pasta Bake!
Can I make this vegetarian?
I love when you ask this, because my husband is vegan and would have issue with the bacon in this! If you want to omit the bacon, use 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in its place to cook the veggies, and add 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika with the salt and pepper.
Can I make this ahead of time?
Absolutely! You can skip the pasta instructions, and just make the hash. Place the hash in a small bowl or food prep storage container, and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. On the day you want to serve, just cook the pasta from scratch, making sure to save some starchy pasta cooking water to help loosen the sauce.
The hash mixture is also great for toddler food because the cubes can be easily eaten by kids. If you like my baby bolognese beef puree with spaghetti squash, your kids will like this, too--just remove the thyme stems before serving to kids.
Other ways to use this bacon butter squash pasta hash:
You can make the hash on the weekend (triple the recipe, even!), and then have it on hand for lots of things!
-Serve a scoop for breakfast with a fried egg on top.
-Stuff this mixture in a quesadilla with extra melty aged cheddar cheese.
-Fold it into a grain salad. I love to make a pot of farro, and then stir in this hash. Top it with little aged cheddar chunks, and I could eat it for lunch every day in a week! I got this idea from using my baked acorn squash in grain bowls after having leftovers from Thanksgiving for Two.
Other pasta recipes you would love:
- Engagement Chicken Pasta
- Quick and Easy Fettuccine Alfredo
- Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad
- Orzo Pasta Salad with Feta
- Instant Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta
- 4 strips of bacon, cut into lardons
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
- 2 cups small-diced butternut squash
- 1 medium onion, diced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 5 large sprigs fresh thyme
- 6 ounces pasta (I used whole wheat penne)
- ⅓ cup grated aged white cheddar cheese
1. In a cast iron skillet, add the bacon lardons. Turn the heat to medium, and let them cook for about 7-8 minutes, until they start to release their fat and begin to brown.
2. Then, add the onion, butternut squash and butter to the pan. Continue to cook until the butternut squash starts to soften, adding small splashes of water (or dry white wine) as needed to prevent burning. It will take 10-15 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, and thyme about half-way through.
3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the penne, following the package directions, and when you drain it, remember to reserve some of the starchy pasta cooking water.
4. When the pasta is done, add it to a serving bowl. Stir in the butternut squash mixture, cheese, and butter. Toss to combine, and add splashes of the pasta cooking water until a silky sauce forms and the pasta dish comes togther. Serve hot.
bacon: The best bacon for adding to a dish is thick-cut bacon, especially black pepper bacon.
butternut squash: We need 2 cups of small-diced butternut squash; either buy a small squash or buy it pre-chopped from the store.
fresh thyme: Five sprigs of fresh thyme for the hash.
short-cut pasta: I used whole wheat penne for this dish, but any short cut pasta works. I love pasta with ridges for soaking up the sauce.
aged cheddar: A small amount of sharp aged white cheddar really makes the flavors sing in this dish. You can use Parmesan cheese in its place, if you like.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 750Total Fat: 47gSaturated Fat: 25gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 129mgSodium: 1329mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 9gSugar: 7gProtein: 30g