Butternut Squash Pasta Al Forno Recipe

Layers of cheese, pasta and sweet butternut squash are baked under a crust of crunchy breadcrumbs.

450 g gemelli or tubetti pasta
1 butternut squash (about 2 lb.), cut into 1/2″-pieces
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup vodka
3 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1 cup light cream
1 tsp salt
Pinch nutmeg
1 cup grated Pecorino cheese, divided
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
3/4 cup grated Asiago cheese
1 250-g ball fresh mozzarella, cubed
1-1/2 tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves


Step 1: Preheat oven to 375°F.

Step 2: In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta for 4 minutes. Add squash and cook for 4 minutes longer, or until pasta is al dente.

Step 3: Meanwhile, in a large deep skillet, melt butter in olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook until tender and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add vodka and cook until evaporated, about 1 minute.

Step 4: Reduce heat. Sprinkle flour over onion mixture and cook for 2 minutes over low heat until flour is lightly browned. Whisk in milk, cream, salt and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes.

Step 5: In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup Pecorino and breadcrumbs.

Step 6: Add remaining 1/2 cup Pecorino and the Asiago to the onion and flour mixture in skillet. Cook on low for 2 to 3 minutes, or until cheeses melt.

Step 7: Drain pasta and squash and add to skillet along with mozzarella and sage; toss until well combined. Transfer mixture to a lightly greased 9″ x 13″ baking dish or shallow, round earthenware bowl. Sprinkle cheese and breadcrumb mixture evenly over top.

Step 8: Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbling. If desired, place under broiler for 2 to 3 minutes to brown topping. 

Virginia Macdonald