Recipe: Butternut squash bakePasta bakes have a bad reputation. Perhaps it’s those powdered packet sauces, which are one “quick fix” too far. Great pasta bakes are a thing of real beauty. The best ones are hearty and hot, and easily scaled-up to feed an a

Rachel Walker

Devour this warming hearty pasta bake

Pasta bakes have a bad reputation. Perhaps it’s those powdered packet sauces, which are one “quick fix” too far. Great pasta bakes are a thing of real beauty. The best ones are hearty and hot, and easily scaled-up to feed an army. It’s much more than just pasta in a sauce…

Serves 6

• 1kg butternut squash

• 2tbsp olive oil

• 250g cherry tomatoes

• 400g pasta (farfalle, rigatoni, penne)

• 200g cavolo nero, sliced (or kale)

• 250g ricotta

• 1 lemon, zested

• 1tsp ground nutmeg

• 150g cheddar, grated

 

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. Top, tail, peel and deseed the butternut squash, then cut it into 2cm pieces. Tip the chunks of squash into a roasting tin. Drizzle over the olive oil, season with salt and roast.

3. After 15 minutes, the butternut squash should be starting to take on some colour. Add the whole cherry tomatoes to the roasting tin. Toss, and return the tray to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, so the tomatoes have collapsed and the squash is soft with the poke of a knife.

4. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and cook the pasta for a couple of minutes less than pack instructions. Add the cavolo nero (or kale) to the pasta pan for two minutes, until it starts to wilt, and then drain both the pasta and greens into a colander, reserving a small glass (about 100ml) of the cooking water.

5. Turn out the ricotta cheese on top of the pasta and the greens, add the lemon zest and nutmeg, and then use a wooden spoon to stir all the components together thoroughly, using the leftover cooking water to loosen the pasta. Tip in the squash, tomatoes and two thirds of the cheese, and stir to combine.

6. Tip the pasta into enamelware, a baking tray or Pyrex pie dish greased with butter. Scatter all the remaining cheese on top of the bake, and then return the pasta to the oven for 8-10 minutes, so the scattered cheese has melted and the top of the pasta bake is starting to turn crisp.

Tip: Serve this bake with a fresh green salad. The crisp, light flavours will bring out the richness of the pasta sauce.