This elegant Butternut Squash Paccheri Pasta Bake will take center stage at your next family gathering or celebratory meal. A comforting and eye pleasing pasta dish made with oven roasted butternut squash, baby arugula and a creamy cheese sauce with a hint of rosemary.
We celebrated hubby’s birthday last weekend and I say weekend because Saturday was reserved for chocolate profiterole cake…yum… and Sunday, this stunning Butternut Squash and Paccheri pasta cake!
This was a special request from hubby after returning home one evening with the latest “Bon Appétit” magazine featuring a baked pasta dish made with peas and mint and largely resembling a cake.
I’ve made a few changes to the recipe mainly by replacing the peas with some seasonal and sweet oven roasted butternut squash which I then tossed with the cooked pasta. I also substituted the mint with some chopped rosemary however sage would work wonderfully as well.
Since I couldn’t come across Fontina cheese in my area, I replaced it with freshly grated Asiago cheese, a cow’s milk cheese which melted beautifully in the silky smooth sauce. The aromas where simply wonderful!
I was almost tempted to line my springform pan with parchment paper for easier release of the pasta cake but I’m so glad I didn’t because buttering the pan and then sprinkling it all around with Parmesan cheese will give you that beautiful crusty exterior we all love so much.
There won’t be any fighting for the crusty end pieces with this dish for sure!
You’ll also want to save some roasted butternut squash for garnishing the pasta cake!
So, if you have a birthday coming up soon and you LOVE pasta then this Butternut Squash Paccheri Pasta Bake is definitely for you!
But why wait for your birthday! Make it this weekend, take a photo and tag @marisasitaliankitchen on Instagram so I can see your creation!
Butternut Squash Paccheri Pasta Bake
- 4 cups diced butternut squash
- olive oil for drizzling over butternut squash
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter plus more for greasing the pan
- 1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese divided
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 cup grated Asiago cheese
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- fine sea salt or kosher salt to your taste
- freshly ground pepper to your taste
- 500 grams paccheri pasta or rigatoni
- 4 cups baby arugula
- 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the chopped butternut squash on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Drizzle with olive oil, a dash of salt and pepper and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until fork tender.
Set the cooked butternut squash aside while continuing with the rest of the recipe.
Butter a 9 inch springform pan with softened butter.
Sprinkle the pan all over with 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt 1/4 of the butter over medium heat.
Add the all purpose flour to the melted butter and cook while whisking for 2 minutes.
Slowly whisk in the milk.
Reduce the heat slightly and let he sauce simmer while whisking often, until the sauce has thickened, for about 20 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the Asiago cheese and 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese.
Whisk in the lightly beaten egg and season with salt and pepper.
Cover the saucepan and keep warm.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta just until al dente or firm to the bite.
Drain the pasta and transfer to a large bowl.
Add the cooked butternut squash, arugula, parsley and rosemary to the pasta bowl.
Stir in the cheese sauce until well combined.
Transfer half of the pasta mixture to the prepared springform pan.
In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese and lemon zest then spoon half over the pasta.
Transfer the remaining pasta into the pan and spoon the remaining ricotta mixture over the pasta.
Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
Let the baked pasta rest for about 1/2 hour before releasing from the pan.
Cut into wedges and serve.