The first thing I am supposed to say about this recipe is that is came from my amazing mother. (She told me I have to say that…but really she is amazing). She made this for dinner for us a few weeks ago because she had a jar of butternut squash pasta sauce in her pantry and was trying to come up with something to do with it. And I have to say, the result was probably one of my favorite baked pasta dishes ever because a) it is delicious and b) it is SO EASY to make (like I made almost the entire thing while Evelyn was eating her afternoon snack the other day).
While it is true that this blog started as a food blog when I was learning to cook and discovering that I loved to cook and collecting recipes, it has obviously become less and less about food recently and more about other things: life, motherhood, books, etc. But food is still important here because the truth is I love to cook, I love finding recipes that I love, and I love that this blog collects them all (for my own use if nothing else). And easy recipes like this one have become such a necessity in our house recently for so many different reasons, mostly having to do with time. In fact, when I have the time (ha) I’m thinking about creating an entire little section of easy dinner recipes and I don’t care if no one else in the world uses it. I need it.
And this recipe would, I think, be the first entry. Really the only cooking you have to do is boiling pasta and browning sausage. And while you could totally use your own homemade butternut squash pasta sauce (I’m sure there are some great recipes out there), store bought is totally delicious and totally fine (we love this jar we found at Target).
If you are more ambitious than I have been feeling (or have had time for) lately, you could totally make your own pasta sauce for this recipe. I think there are some great store-bought options out there though, so I'm not sure it's worth it. By the way, the one we bought at the store also had roasted red peppers listed in the ingredients, and I think the added flavor of that was perfection.
- 1 lb. penne (or similar) pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb. ground sausage
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 25.5 oz. (about 2.5 cups) butternut squash pasta sauce
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray or butter.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside (if it will be sitting for more than just a couple of minutes, toss with a bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking together).
- While the pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon or spatula, until browned. Add the cream cheese and stir it around until it is melted (it helps to cut it into a few smaller pieces before adding it in). Then stir in the pasta sauce.
- Return the drained pasta back to the pot you boiled it in (or put it in a large bowl). Pour the sauce over the pasta, along with 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Stir to combine, and then pour the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Top it with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Serve warm.