Creamy Butternut Squash Mafaldine

People will be fighting for seconds (if there’s anything left in the pot!)

This may look like a creamy, cheesy, delicious sauce, and that’s because…it is! BUT, there’s only a little bit of cheese in this dish, compared to a whole lot of butternut squash that’s been seasoned with lemony dried thyme and roasted until it’s soft, tender, and lightly caramelized. The squash gets tossed in a blender with half and half and parmesan cheese, and the result is a super decadent, creamy, luscious sauce that looks JUST like mac and cheese sauce! The squash has a gentle, slightly sweet flavor that blends perfectly with the thyme and parmesan. All this sauce needs is a great pasta, and mafaldine is ideal. Imagine if lasagna and fettuccine were combined, and you have mafaldine! Perfect for twisting up a big forkful, and the little waves grab onto the sauce for maximum flavor. As if this couldn’t get better, I take the butternut squash seeds, roast them until crisp, and then saute them in butter, along with panko bread crumbs, parmesan, and red pepper flakes. This topping adds tons of crunch, flavor, and spice, and truly takes this dish to a whole other level. People will be fighting for seconds (if there’s anything left in the pot!)

Creamy Butternut Squash Mafaldine

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 886.24 kcal


For the Butternut Squash Sauce:

  • 4 cups cubed butternut squash seeds reserved (about ½ small squash)
  • ¼ cup olive oil divided
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup half and half
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound Mafaldine or similar long pasta

For the Crunchy Squash Seed Topping

  • ¼ cup butternut squash seeds approximately seeds from one squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or more, depending on spice preference
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Divide squash between two rimmed sheet pans. Drizzle each pan with 2 tablespoons of oil and mix to coat squash. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon thyme per pan, and seasonally generously with salt and pepper. Place in oven and roast until fork tender and lightly golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes, tossing halfway through roasting time. With 10 minutes remaining in the bake time, remove one of the sheet pans and create a small space to roast the squash seeds. Drizzle seeds with 1 tablespoon olive oil, toss to coat, then season with salt. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown and roasted.
  • Remove from oven and set aside.
  • In a medium nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium high heat until it begins to sizzle, about 1 minute. Pour panko, Parmesan, and red pepper flakes into butter, and mix with a rubber spatula to coat all ingredients in butter. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes, until panko and Parmesan are toasted and golden brown. Remove from heat, add roasted squash seeds, and stir to combine. Set aside to cool.
  • In the pitcher of a high speed blender or food processor, add roasted squash, half and half and Parmesan. Blend on high until smooth; mixture will be very thick. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to preference, then set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add pasta. Boil according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 2 cups of pasta water, then drain pasta in a large colander and set back on top of pasta pot while you finish the sauce.
  • Add 1 cup of pasta water to squash mixture in blender or food processor, and blend on high speed until smooth. Sauce should be a mornay (macaroni and cheese sauce) consistency, so if needed, continue adding tablespoons of pasta water and blending until desired consistency is reached.
  • Pour drained pasta into pot, then top with butternut alfredo sauce. Use tongs to gently toss the pasta until noodles are well coated. Use additional pasta water to thin sauce if needed.
  • Divide pasta equally amongst 4 bowls and top with 1 to 2 tablespoons of crunchy squash seed topping. Serve immediately.
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