I love to highlight roasted vegetables in a baked pasta, and this one with butternut squash is a favorite. Sautéed onions and fall herbs add flavor, while fresh ricotta and a bit of creamy tomato sauce keep the pasta moist. There’s a bit of prep here, but the pasta only needs 25 minutes in the oven. It’s definitely hearty enough to be the star of dinner; serve it with sausages, ham, chicken, or just a big green salad.   

Serves 4

  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for pan
  • 3 heaping cups (1 pound) peeled, large-diced butternut squash (3/4-inch dice)
  • 1 large or 2 medium yellow onions (7 to 8 ounces), sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • ¾ cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano Regianno
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4  cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ pound (8 ounces) penne or medium shaped pasta of your choice
  • 16 ounces fresh ricotta
  • 1 tablespoon combination chopped fresh thyme, oregano, sage, parsley or other favorite fall herbs

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Rub a 1 ½ to 2-quart shallow gratin or baking dish with olive oil. Line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Toss the diced butternut squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt. Spread on the baking sheet and roast, flipping or stirring once, until browned and tender, about 25 minutes.

3. In a medium sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and a big pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until softened and nicely browned, about 15 minutes.

4. Combine the crushed tomatoes, the heavy cream, and the balsamic vinegar in a mixing bowl. Combine the breadcrumbs with a third of the Parmigiano and 2 teaspoons olive oil.

5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the penne or other pasta until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta well in a colander and transfer it to the bowl of tomatoes and cream. Sprinkle it with 3/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Add the ricotta, the remaining Parmigiano, the herbs, the sautéed onions, and the roasted squash to the bowl. Stir gently but thoroughly until well combined, and transfer everything to the baking dish, spreading it in an even layer. Top with the Parmigiano-bread crumb mixture.

6. Bake until the top is golden brown and the edges are bubbly, about 25 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and serve hot.