Butternut-Sage Pasta Al Forno
- Yield 8 servings
This pasta al forno or baked ziti dish is much more sophisticated than the typical marinara-baked pasta and makes a lovely holiday entree for everyone.
- Butternut Squash:
- 1 large butternut squash, halved and seeded
- 1/2 cup water
- Tomato Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 -- garlic cloves, minced
- 1 -- (28-ounce) can chopped plum tomatoes with juice
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- Cheese Filling:
- 3 cups low-fat ricotta cheese
- 2 -- eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup minced sage leaves
- 1 tablespoon minced lemon peel
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- -- Freshly ground black pepper
- To Assemble Dish:
- 1/2 pound penne or rigatoni pasta, cooked al dente, cooked according to package directions
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- To make squash: Place butternut squash halves, cut side down, in a baking pan. Add 1/2 cup water and bake 35 to 40 minutes until tender. Cool and then scoop squash flesh from shell. Set aside.
- To make sauce: Heat olive oil in a large nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until soft. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add the basil; set aside.
- To make filling: Combine ricotta, eggs, sage, lemon peel, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. Add cooked butternut squash and combine well. Filling can be chunky; it doesn't have to be mixed until smooth.
- To assemble: Ladle half the sauce onto bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Place pasta in baking dish and spread evenly. Spoon squash filling over the pasta (it doesn't have to be an even layer; it can look like little pillows, and you may leave small mounds with some pasta peeking out).
Ladle remaining sauce over squash and top with mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 45 to 50 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes until golden brown. Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.