Butternut Squash Baked Ziti

Friday, Friday, Friday. The day I have been waiting for since Monday (…Monday, Monday). What else is new, right? I’m pretty sure I say this every week, but what can I say. I love my weekends.
I have a busy couple of weekends in a row starting today, with a week-long Caribbean vacation thrown into the mix in just about two weeks. Ahhhhhhhh! 
So besides daydreaming about the trip, I’ve been in the kitchen whipping up a lot of new recipes this week too. I’ve already showed you the sweeter things – cookies! But I made a savory dinner to keep everything balanced.

I bought my first butternut squash at the Daniel Island Farmers’ Market last week and spent a good three or four days brainstorming the best way to use it. I finally decided on a pasta bake. I researched a few recipes, but in the end came up with my own concoction. 

The version I made could have used more cheese, but I was trying to keep it as healthy as possible. So if you want to use this recipe, just make note of that. Otherwise it was great, especially with a side of steamed broccoli florets on the side that I ended up mixing right into the pasta. 

Butternut Squash Baked Ziti
Makes about 4-5 servings
Ingredients:
3/4 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups chopped)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

2 1/2 cups dry ziti pasta
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 cup shredded Colby jack cheese (divided)
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup panko style breadcrumbs
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil. Add chunks of squash to the sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Top with chili powder, salt and pepper. Use spatula or tongs to gently toss. Bake for about 40 minutes, removing half way through to flip squash. (When finished baking, you will want to turn oven down to 350 degrees to bake the pasta shortly after)
2. While squash is baking, boil pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Add butter and 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Stir until butter and cheese is melted. Add butternut squash and stir again to evenly distribute.
3. Pour pasta into 9-inch pan. Top with remaining 3/4 cup cheese, followed by breadcrumbs. 
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until breadcrumbs become golden brown. 

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