A mouthwatering fusion of creamy butternut squash, al dente pasta, and a medley of aromatic herbs and spices, this dish is the epitome of comfort food. Each bite is a symphony of flavors, with the silky smoothness of the butternut squash sauce perfectly complementing the hearty pasta. Topped with a golden, cheesy crust, this bake is the ideal dish to gather loved ones around the table for a cozy and satisfying meal. This dish will warm both your heart and taste buds and quickly become a beloved favorite.
Ingredients for Roasted Squash
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
Ingredients for Baked Penne
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
12 large sage leaves
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, warm
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (1-pound) high-quality penne rigate
1 pound mozzarella, shredded, divided
Ingredients for Topping
2 tablespoons (¼ stick) unsalted butter
1 small clove garlic, grated on a microplane
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup panko
01Preheat the oven to 400 F degrees.
02In a large bowl, toss the squash in the oil until well coated. Season generously with salt and toss to combine.
03Scatter the squash evenly onto a half sheet pan and bake until almost fork tender, for 10-15 minutes.
04To make the baked penne, add the butter and sage leaves to a medium-sized saucepan.
05Place over medium heat and cook until the butter is completely melted and begins to foam; remove from the heat and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes to infuse.
06Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook for 2/3 of the recommended cooking time for al dente.
07Finish the sauce; using a slotted spoon or cooking tweezers, remove the sage leaves, shaking off any butter, and discard.
08Return the sauce pan to the stove and place over medium-high heat.
09Once the butter begins to foam, add the flour and whisk to combine, until completely incorporated.
10Slowly drizzle in the milk, whisking constantly, until fully combined.
11Cook, stirring often, until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes.
12Remove from the heat, add the nutmeg and pepper, and season with salt, to taste; whisk to combine and transfer the par-cooked pasta to a large bowl and add the sauce and stir to combine.
13Add the roasted squash and fold until evenly dispersed. Then add in 3/4 of the mozzarella, and stir to combine.
14Transfer to a 3-quart casserole dish and, using the back of a spoon or spatula, spread it into an even layer.
15Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella evenly over the top and cover with foil, tenting it to keep it from sticking to the cheese, and bake for 30 minutes.
16Remove the foil and bake until heated through and the cheese is golden brown, about 15 minutes.
17As it bakes, to make the bread crumb topping, in a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
18Add the garlic and salt and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
19Add the panko and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 5 minutes; transfer immediately to a bowl.
20Remove the pasta bake bake and let rest for 5 minutes.
21To serve, scoop the baked penne into a serving plate, sprinkle with the topping and some freshly grated pecorino; serve immediately.