1/4 cup butternut squash seeds (approximately seeds from one squash)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more, depending on spice preference
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Divide squash between two rimmed sheet pans. Drizzle each pan with two tablespoons of oil and mix to coat the squash. Sprinkle with one 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 one 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 one 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 three to five 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 two cups of pasta water, then drain the pasta in a large colander and set it back on top of the pasta pot while you finish the sauce.
Add one cup of pasta water to squash mixture in blender or food processor, and blend on high speed until smooth. The 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 the 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 the sauce if needed.
Divide pasta equally amongst four bowls and top with one to two tablespoons of crunchy squash seed topping. Serve immediately. Enjoy!