Recipes

winter squash and spinach pasta bake

I am in awe of people who can make a meal plan, repeating many favorite dishes weekly or several times a year, knowing that they love what they love. Because I’m not: I like shiny new recipes. My favorite thing to cook will always be the last new thing I made. All attempts to be a responsible sort of person with a plan are consistently jettisoned by a sparkly whim that landed in my head in the last day or two, like a Big Apple Crumb Cake. Or, in this case, an Ottolenghi recipe from The Guardian I apparently bookmarked over three years ago and forgot about until this stunning image flashed across my screen a few weeks ago and all of my best-laid October plans were kicked to the curb. I haven’t a single regret.

sliced winter squashroughly chopped baby spinachmix with cheese, egg, waterhalf a pound of pastabroken noodlesready to bakefoil offfrom the oven


This is not a usual pasta bake. We do not boil the noodles. We do not make or buy a sauce. We do not roast the winter squash or even sauté the greens. We throw every single ingredient raw into a big bowl for mixing and pour that into a parchment-slung springform (or equivalently-sized pan) pan and bake it for 90 minutes. That’s the rub; it takes a long time to cook. But this time is entirely hands-off, save removing the foil midway. You won’t be scrubbing pots, as the sum of your dishes to wash will be a cutting board, knife, whisk, grater, and a bowl.

winter squash and spinach pasta bake

What emerges from the oven is savory fall decadence. The proportions are upended — depending on your perspective, this has either half the pasta or twice the vegetables of most pasta bakes of this size. The squash softened, the spinach perfectly cooked, the noodles tender in the center and burnished to a snatch-able crisp on top, and the fragrance of garlic and toasted cheese is everywhere I want to be.

winter squash and spinach pasta bake

Previously

6 months ago: Spring Asparagus Galette
1 year ago: Skillet Turkey Chili
2 years ago: Chicken Curry
3 years ago: Even More Perfect Apple Pie
4 years ago: Quick Pasta and Chickpeas and Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
5 years ago: Garlic Wine and Butter Steamed Clams, Baked Alaska, Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Soup and Skillet-Baked Pasta with Five Cheeses
6 years ago: My Old-School Baked Ziti and Cannoli Pound Cake
7 years ago: Better Chicken Pot Pies and Better Chocolate Babka
8 years ago: Miso Sweet Potato and Broccoli Bowl and Purple Plum Torte
9 years ago: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
10 years ago: Apple Pie Cookies
11 years ago: Mushroom Lasagna
12 years ago: Quiche Lorraine and Breakfast Apple Granola Crisp
13 years ago: Majestic and Moist Honey Cake, Best Challah (Egg Bread), and Mom’s Apple Cake
14 years ago: Peter Reinhart’s Bagels and Peanut Butter Brownies
15 years ago: Lemon Cake

winter squash and spinach pasta bake

Winter Squash and Spinach Pasta Bake

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup (250 grams) ricotta
  • 1 cup (100 grams) finely grated parmesan, divided
  • 1 cup (85 grams) coarsely grated fontina cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 grams) water
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (I use Diamond; use less of other brands)
  • Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 5 ounces (140 grams) baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons thinly-sliced sage leaves or 1 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves (optional)
  • 1 1/4-pound (560-grams) butternut or another sturdy winter squash, peeled, seeded, sliced thin or 1 pound (455 grams) in prepared chunks, sliced thin
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) dried pasta (see Note), broken into pieces if large/long

Heat oven to 350°F (176°C). Line a 9-inch springform with 3-inch sides (see Note) with a sling of parchment paper, pressing it across the bottom and creasing the sides to get it to fit as best as possible. If the sides aren’t well covered, repeat with a second piece of parchment in the other direction.

Whisk egg and ricotta in a large bowl. Stir in half of the parmesan, fontina, water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, a few gratings of fresh nutmeg, lots of freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Stir in squash, spinach, and sage or thyme, if using. Add dried noodles and stir until everything is coated.

Pour into prepared pan and press gently so everything is in as even of a layer as possible. Sprinkle with second half of parmesan. Gently fold any parchment that extends over the rim of the pan into the center and cover the pan tightly with foil. Bake on a sheet (for extra security against drips) for 1 hour, then remove foil, reopen the parchment folded over the top, and drizzle the dish with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Return to the oven uncovered for 30 minutes. Pasta will be baked through and the top will be crisp. If it doesn’t have as much color as you’d like on top, you can finish it under the broiler for a minute or two.

Cool in pan on a rack for 30 minutes before removing the springform ring, sliding the pasta bake by its parchment onto a serving plate, and cut it into wedges.

Do ahead: This keeps in the fridge for up to 1 week. Rewarm uncovered in a 350-degree oven. I haven’t frozen it, but would expect it to freeze well, tightly wrapped.

Notes:
* Structural note: Like a lasagna, this is more wet and messy when it first comes out of the oven. I recommend a 30-minute rest at minimum (what you see here in the loose slices) but it will be cleaner to cut and more set the longer it hangs out. It reheats fantastically and keeps up to a week in the fridge. Last night, we reheated wedges from 6 days ago and they were (still) perfection.

* Pan size: I only tested this in a 9-inch springform but would expect it to also fit in a 11 to 12-inch ovenproof skillet and also, less glamorously, a 9×13-inch baking dish. No need to line with parchment if you’re serving it from the pan or not worried about leakage.

* Pasta shape: I am using a ribbon-shaped pasta called mafaldine or reginette. You can find it from many brands with slight variations such as: Anna (what I used), Sfoglini, Garofalo, Eataly. Classic ruffle-edged lasagna noodles broken into pieces will work too.

* Adaptation notes: I used Ottolenghi’s recipe as general inspiration, but not a literal guide. I skipped the tomatoes, pine nuts, feta, basil, parsley, and even the fresh noodles, instead using dried ones and adding more liquid so they could fully cook. I add some fontina for richness, a bit more parmesan, more salt, and sage.

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255 comments on winter squash and spinach pasta bake

    1. Daron

      As someone who can never cook the right amount of pasta for my family (use the whole box, way too much. Anything less and somehow there’s not enough. Is there a scientific explanation for this? Probably not), I’m wondering if this would work with cooked pasta. Maybe just back off on the water? I’ll give it a go and report back. Thank you for this inspiration!

      1. deb

        I didn’t test this with cooked pasta, but you’re looking at something closer to a classic baked ziti. It will not need the water, most likely (it’s to cook the pasta), but the pasta is likely to be overcooked before the squash is tender.

    1. Emily

      I would think either would be fine! Goat cheese would add a nice tang, but cottage cheese might be more similar to the ricotta – might blend it a little so the curds aren’t as noticeable?

    1. Maggie Milano

      This already has plenty of cheese as well as an egg so an additional source of protein doesn’t seem necessary. I’d just accompany it with an interesting salad and good bread or focaccia.

        1. deb

          I’ve actually never made a pasta in the slow-cooker before but I don’t see why it would work. It would just take longer than one that began with cooked pasta.

    2. Jenn Congdon

      I’d add Italian sausage! You and I were thinking the same thing! I know it’s a vegetarian dish but I enjoy my meat and in a dish like this I think it’d be fantastic!

    3. Laryssa

      I’m considering adding a can of chickpeas when I make this weekend. If I don’t get any replies to dissuade me, I’ll come back with a report!

      1. alexis

        I haven’t made this yet – but my daughter and I adore butternut squash ravioli that I dress with spinach, chickpeas, extra virgin olive oil, and grated pecorino or parm. I feel like that is a pretty close test run for how your addition would work. We love it.

    1. Barbara

      After reading the original recipe and then looking at Deb’s comments, you are supposed to add the water to everything else in the bowl. Hopefully she will see the questions and confirm this.

  1. Betty Isaacson

    Hi, This sounds amazing. One question though, when do I add the 1 1/4 of water? The water is not mentioned in the directions.

    Thanks, I love your recipes and have made quite a few.

  2. Christina

    I don’t see where the water is added? Does it go in with the egg and ricotta or did I overlook it? It looks amazing, can’t wait to try it.

    1. Alissa Viscome

      After making your apple cake (twice!) this week, I will happily try any recipe you print… this looks amazing and I have all the ingredients in my pantry. Just confirming the water step and I’m in!

  3. Becky

    You list 1 1/4 cups water in the ingredients, but I don’t see how it is used in the recipe. Sorry if I missed it, but read through several times and don’t see it. It seems like a lot to just add to the mixture.

    1. Bridgit

      I love everything about this, especially because my spouse now works from home and often needs an afternoon break. I have tons of kale and I’m thinking to swap it in for the spinach. I was thinking I might add a couple extra tablespoons or even a quarter cup of water to compensate, since spinach has such a high water content. Do you think that’s necessary? I don’t relish the idea of crunchy noodles.
      Also, often when some thing is supposed to be covered with foil, we just stick a silpat on top to reduce the disposable factor. It generally works quite well.
      Kale, fontina and squash are one of my favorite combinations, so I am especially looking forward to this. I bet the summer veggie farro dish could also be adapted to this flavor profile as well. Thanks again!

  4. Emily

    This looks awesome, and I’m making it to put in the fridge now so I can toss it in the oven to bake while I’m in a meeting! But I missed where the water goes in – I assume with the fontina, etc.?

  5. Barbara

    This sounds so delicious and fairly easy to make ( which I love!) We’ve been eating more vegetarian meals and this looks perfect! I’m curious to know why you left out the tomatoes and pine nuts? I’m not a huge fan of feta so I like that sub!

    1. deb

      Didn’t want them here. I wasn’t very concerned with the original flavors, just liked the concept, and wanted to apply it to my idea of what an ideal squash bake would be.

    1. deb

      I didn’t test it with kale, so I can’t say for sure. I’d expect that 90 minutes will soften any greens, however, it just might be a bit more heaped in the pan before it cooks down.

    2. Susan

      You could “blanch” the kale by putting it in a colander (in the sink), and pouring a kettle of boiling water over it. I think I’d chop it first, that way you wouldn’t have to wait for it to cool. If you pressed the water out of it afterwards, I don’t think you’d have to adjust the water in the recipe.

      As for cheese, I could see adding in some nuggets of blue cheese.

    3. Caitlin

      I also used kale. Didn’t blanch, but did chop it pretty well beforehand. Didn’t change anything else, and it came out great!

  6. katy

    This is exactly what I love about your site – every day ingredients combined in new and interesting ways to make something utterly lovely and family-friendly. It’s like you know exactly what I want to cook (and eat!!) before I know it myself. Making this tonight!

  7. Jennine M Quiring

    Thank you for the beautiful recipe. The photos were super also. I cook for myself and like something like this that I can reheat. I am 85 years old and do not eat as much at each meal anymore.. I can see freezing part of it. I am so excited and am going to put an order in for Walmart delivery for the items I do not have. Such a good service for housebound people like me.

  8. Karen Fritsche

    Hi Deb. Any thoughts on whether this would work with gluten free pasta? It looks SO AMAZING, I don’t want to miss out on it. Thanks, Karen

      1. Kim

        Was just reading and wondering if it would work with Jovial. Have done other one-pot pasta recipes that aren’t specifically gluten free and it has worked out.

  9. Julia

    This looks great! Is there any reason not to use a Dutch oven and cover with the lid for the first half of the cooking time instead of foil?

    1. Anne Spellberg

      I just made a frittata in my dutch oven, please beware, anything with an egg or cheese will stick in the oven for 90 minutes. I buttered and oiled it, but you know eggs, they love to stick. It was le Creuset so it cleaned up beautifully but I bet you would still need the parchment. Just a thought, and my 2 cents.

  10. Layla

    This looks delicious! I feel so inspired and excited to try it with 20 lbs of winter squash I’m picking up from a local farm in a couple weeks. I wish I didn’t have to wait that long.

    1. deb

      I didn’t test it without the egg; it’s mostly here for structure since there’s so much vegetable and relatively less pasta. But I don’t think the dish will be ruined without it, just softer set.

  11. Kristin

    I can’t wait to make this! My israeli friend makes something similar with spinach. She makes it vegan using tahini- and she makes it in a loaf pan. It sounds delicious as you have designed it!

    1. deb

      There is a print icon that leads to a print template at the bottom of each recipe, where it says “DO MORE:” You can also click CTRL or ⌘ + P [on desktop] from any recipe post and it will take you to a streamlined print template.

      Other ways to print:
      File > Print on a Mac
      From the share button (the one that looks like an up-arrow coming out of a box) at the bottom of the Safari browser on an iPhone

  12. kelli

    I’m so excited to try this! It’s currently in the oven. I do have a question about the TABLEspoon of salt ???? I did put it in. I really really hope that is not a typo ???? I will let you know when I try it. I did use Kosher salt but still …

    1. Sandy

      Was it too salty? I’d like to make it today but a tbsp sounds like a lot of salt when there’s a good amount of cheese already.

      1. Lou Ann Brown

        Made according to recipe, but halved the salt. Absolutely delicious— perfect autumnal dinner served with arugula and pomegranate salad.

  13. This looks amazing and may be just the vegetarian dish I was looking for to serve at an upcoming dinner party. Any suggestions Deb, or fellow food community, on what else I can serve with this to bulk up the meal a bit more (since it’s a dinner party)?

    1. Tara

      This might seem minor but could be helpful, especially to NYC Fresh Direct customers/people who order ingredients online! The pasta reginette should be reginetti (w an I on the end). I was copying and pasting to look for it. Fresh Direct does carry it!

  14. Holly K

    This is delicious and super easy to put together! Followed the recipe as written, used delicata squash because didn’t have butternut. Everyone ate 2 helpings, even the 6 year old. Will definitely make this again.

  15. Lara

    This looks fantastic! I assume you’ve overcome your previous aversion to baked ricotta? ;) seems like this could be a blueprint for so many amazing flavors too – I’m wondering about a butternut-gruyere edition! Will report back.

    1. deb

      I seem to be coming along with it. I don’t want to be too difficult about ingredients, i.e. make people feel like they have to hunt down a lot of specialties to cook my recipes, but if you can find fina-style ricotta, that’s what did the trick for me. It’s not chunky like cottage cheese; and it’s thicker too. I’ve been using this brand (because I can get it from my grocery delivery service). I suppose running regular ricotta through a food processor or Vitamix would create something similar.

  16. Caroline Tauras

    Sick to death of people posting recipes…who drone on and on about their lives and thoughts. BIG NEWS! No one cares!!! Get to the recipe…which is the reason users clicked on your site. Keep your opinions to yourself. The world doesn’t need more self indulgent, entitled, self -appointed experts. Please share this content with every recipe blogger you know. Thank you.

    1. Omelette

      It’s always interesting to me how people who post comments to say “no one’s interested in your opinions” think everyone’s interested in theirs. Humanity is a vast tapestry!

    2. No. Recognize that different people enjoy different things and YOU can indulge your own preferences without bossing other people. I enjoy Deb’s stories and musings and will always read her posts even if I have no plans to make the recipe!

      1. alexis

        I rarely have time to cook much. I love the stories – they are reason I read this site! I skim the ingredients and use them to riff on my own creations when I do cook. But I have never been a recipe follower and am 100% here for the stories. I also only buy cookups that tell us the story of the grandmother who made something similar, or why farmers started finding uses for X product before it spoiled, I couldn’t care less about a tsp of this or a 1/4 cup of that.

    3. Emily

      Please remember that you are commenting on a real person’s post. If you met Deb in real life, would you say this to her face? I hope not. And I hope that you think more considerately and kindly about how you interact with people on the internet in the future.

      Personally I love Deb’s stories and would be very disappointed if she stopped writing and got right to the recipe. But if you don’t enjoy them, simply click “jump to recipe” which is at the very top of the page. Or if it is a recurring problem for you, I recommend the Chrome extension called Recipe Filter that will load up just the recipe in a pop up screen when you visit blogs or websites with recipes on them.

      Lastly, I think it’s important to note that many food bloggers write longer stories because of the way search engine algorithms work (and/or to optimize ad revenue – although clearly that’s not the case with Smitten Kitchen). If they didn’t write their stories, you might not see their recipes in your search results, or they might not have the extra little cash to buy the ingredients/equipment needed for their recipes.

      1. Karen

        I agree! I love Deb’s stories. For those who don’t, I would suggest unsubscribing or just slide down to the recipe. No need to complain for free recipes! Please don’t change, Deb!

    4. Heather W

      Imagine being so self-obsessed that you think others should change their art to fit your viewpoint. This is a blog, it’s not transactional. Deb owes you nothing. How nasty do you have to be that the nanosecond it takes to scroll down half a page is too much for you. You’re welcome to stick to AI-generated garbage recipes riddled with errors. The rest of us will continue to enjoy recipes from the heart.

    5. Lauren

      Um, you need some help. I suggest meditation. Maybe a walk in the woods. Therapy is probably a good choice. And a friend to give you a hug. All of the above is your best bet.

    6. Lily

      This is Deb’s blog. She’s allowed to post whatever she wants in it. Personally, I love hearing about her anecdotes and thoughts, and that’s the reason why Smitten Kitchen is my favorite blog. I regularly go back and read her previous entries.

    7. Julia

      Astonishing that you can’t see how Deb has created a community of readers who not only very much enjoy reading the stories and context that accompany the recipes and bring them to life, but also contribute so much of their own experience and ideas. These readers wouldn’t be here if they didn’t find value in how Smitten Kitchen works, stories and all. Go elsewhere if you aren’t interested—no need to crash a party where you’re not having fun.

  17. Deb Y

    I’m an inefficient cook so this took a while to assemble. It’s now been in the oven for 15 minutes with many more to go. I’m hoping against hope that the instruction to use one TABLESPOON of salt isn’t another typo, especially since this isn’t a cheap dish if you use quality cheeses.

    1. deb

      The tablespoon of salt is not a typo. I tested it with 2 teaspoons, too, and it was way under-seasoned. Usually you’d cook each ingredient with salt — salt in the pasta water, salt when you roast squash, salt when you saute greens. Here it’s just done at once.

  18. Definitely making this over the weekend, any other ideas to sub out fontina? And do you think it would work with Banza chickpea pasta? Normally takes about 7-9 minutes to cook so thinking either less water or shorter cooking time? Thoughts? Can’t wait to make it!

    1. deb

      I haven’t tested this with gluten-free pasta but your hunch is probably correct — try a little less water. Actually not sure about needing less baking time, now that I think of it. This 90 minutes (but only 1/4 cup water) was called for in the original Ottolenghi recipe and he began with fresh pasta sheets (which need less water and cooking time).

  19. DianaW

    90 minutes in an oven is a very long time, especially if there’s nothing else being baked or roasted there at the same time. That seems very wasteful of power.
    I’d use a big round and deep silicon dish for this and bake it in the microwave instead. Not ending up with a crispy top is a small price to pay for saving so much time and energy.
    Can you suggest an appropriate microwave cooking time, or should I just experiment? I’ve cooked lots of vegetables and an occasional cake that way but never anything this dense and bulky….

    1. Maggie Milano

      Holy cow! I can think of dozens of ways to make use a 350° oven for 90 minutes. While the pasta bake is cooking on one rack you can use the other to make: cookies, a quick bread, some baked apples, a quiche, a cottage pie, cupcakes, muffins, braised veggies (like broccoli or asparagus)… The key is to plan.

    2. Elcin

      I don’t think microwave would consume less energy if not more. My oven actually uses very little energy after getting to the temperature it is assigned to. On the other hand microwave should be working all time, and unit energy consumed is far more than an oven (esspecially if it has a good isolation). The vegetables also are not precooked, so this also saves some energy.

    3. deb

      I’ve not tested this in the microwave so I cannot give instructions for it. But most pasta bakes with already cooked pasta (think: stuffed shells or lasagna) take 40 to 45 minutes in the oven, but the ingredients go in already prepared. Here, you’d first have to boil the pasta in a big pot + sauté the greens and garlic in a skillet + roast the squash in the oven, which would easily eat up the 45 minutes you’d saved by not using this dump-and-bake method. This is actually the first pasta bake on SK with winter squash for that reason; every time I wanted to make one, I was put off by the number of processes and pans involved to do it well. When I saw this method, I knew it was the one.

  20. Karen

    I am literally drooling over this! It is nice to “meet” someone else who is easily apathetic about recipes and the next favorite one! Thank you–I am making this tonight!

    1. deb

      I didn’t test it with gluten-free pasta. Does it ever need less water? Or less cooking time? If so, those adjustments should be considered here. Otherwise, I’m sure it will be fine.

  21. Eileen L

    The only problem I have with this, is that it has veggies in it that are at opposite ends of the growing cycle. It is a first world recipe.

      1. Eileen L

        I’m speaking from the perspective of west central Maine, where local farmers just don’t grow spinach this time of year, even those with greenhouses. They would have to plant in late July, early August when it’s hot here and the spinach would bolt.
        Then we usually have a hard, killing frost by mid to late Sept. – but here we are, mid Oct. and no killing frost in this area yet. Strange, warm fall weather – tho we aren’t complaining!
        Farmers do have chard and kale now, ‘cause they are hardier than spinach, so are a good substitute.
        After I hit send, I also thought frozen leaf spinach would work well too.

    1. Sara

      Also squashes store really well, and lots of leafy greens including spinach are locally available year-round (grown outdoors or covered or in un-heated greenhouses). I expect I’ll be able to cook this most of the winter with locally sourced squash, greens, garlic, herbs & eggs. And by local, I mean direct from the farm (or my balcony for the herbs).

    2. Lemon3378

      Um, it’s a lovely recipe and if using seasonal produce is your jam then make some modifications. Also, maybe start your own seasonal only blog. Jeesh, with the negative and critical comments.

    3. Brenda

      Ummmmm…. I’m in CANADA and I received squash AND spinach in my farm-share box. Grown locally, 10 minutes away. Why be so rude.

    1. Rachel

      I was also wondering if I could do this in the instant pot! I’ve only had mine for about a month, so I want to try everything in it! Please post if you try it and the settings. Thanks!

  22. Sharon

    I love the idea of this but…I hate squash. Have tried it a million ways to change my mind, but no. Any ideas of vegetables to use in addition to the spinach, to add the same amount of vegetal bulk? The method seems great, and I’d love to try it! Thanks, Deb!

    1. Nan

      Sweet potatoes would seem to be the easiest swap, if you like them. Or, the original recipe had tomatoes in it. That might be a nice flavor combination, but you’d have to adjust the liquid. I also think mushrooms would be good, but I’d be inclined to sauté them first. I’d be interested to know what you come up with.

    2. Sara

      Any hard veggies that take a long time to cook would be my instinct. Some of my first thoughts would need a lot of flavour adjustments (rutabaga, celery root, beetroot), but might be doable. Carrots could work, or maybe a combo of carrots and sweet potatoes?

      Cauliflower or broccoli might work but I would be worried they’d get over-cooked. A mix of mushrooms/leeks/onions might be nice, but would probably be best if pre-sauteed a bit.

    3. Amber

      Sharon – I don’t usually like butternut squash in recipes but the picture looked so yummy I went out on a limb and made it for dinner last night and it was amazing! Between the sage and garlic and nutmeg and cheese it all melds together that you can’t really taste the squash separate from everything else. I ended up buying precut squash (because that is all our lame grocery store had!) and sliced them much like Deb showed in her picture. Hope this helps! Alternatively you could pick out the pieces of squash if you have family members that like it…..

    1. Danita

      I used brown rice lasagna noodles broken into random sizes and it worked fine. I used the same amount of water as mentioned in recipe.

  23. Rachel

    This is delish! Mine is all done and ready to go at 1:30 PM, but dinner isnt’ until 5:30-6. Do you think I should refrigerate and then re-heat, or can/should I just leave it out for that time frame? Thanks and sorry for the rookie question!

  24. Debby N

    Deb, I am always on the lookout for a vegetarian recipe for when my 15 year old granddaughter visits. This looks perfect, and I might make it for her while the rest of us are eating turkey next month. Thanks as always for a great recipe!

  25. JEG

    I am looking forward to trying this. My plan is to chop the spinach up small–Get the benefit of the spinach and pass it off to the husband. We love winter squashes.

  26. Sandy Lentz

    Well, it’s in the oven, and smells wonderful already. A quibble, however: it takes MUCH MORE than the15 minutes you list to prep. I do mise en place, especially with a first-time recipe. By the time I had gathered the pantry ingredients, grated two cheeses (suggest in a recipe update that fontina grates much more easily after a few minutes in the freezer) harvested and chiffonaded the sage leaves, peeled (ugh! My usual technique is to chunk the squash, steam, then put on my rubber gloves and scoop out the softened squash from the skin) and sliced a big hunk of butternut squash, lined my pan, peeled and sliced garlic, etc….it was nearly an hour. Mixing, pouring and foil-ing take 15 minutes, maybe, but putting the recipe together takes much longer. I’m sure it will be worth it; never had a recipe of yours fail, never.

    1. Sandy Lentz

      It was delicious! Husband had three helpings! Not too salty. Next time – thyme (fresh) in place of the sage, thinner pasta (I used up lasagna noodles, broken up. Too thick, and uneven so they didn’t cook evenly.) I didn’t like the really crispy (Too hard, actually) pasta pieces on top; will use a thinner noodle and be sure to bury them. Just a few tweaks to a really great cool-weather dish.

  27. Mandy

    Do you know if you can use a chickpea pasta , will it work the same? The cook time is similar to regular pasta when you boil it.

  28. rrose

    I just made a vegan version of this and it’s in the oven. Pretty sure it will turn out great based upon the way it looked going in : ) I make my own vegan cheese and simply skipped the egg. If I used soy I would probably add a blended cake of tofu to simulate the ricotta but I’m going without it on my version – I’m pretty sure there’s enough ‘cheese’ to hold it together. Either way it will be tasty! Always looking for ways to use fresh sage from my giant shrub out back. Thank you!

    1. rrose

      @Doug, et al:
      It was VERY good haha. I’ve never had a “pasta bake” before so I thought it was going to be, “meh, lasagna variation, ok”. But it was actually very delicious – the fresh sage was key, I thought. (I also used a RED kabocha and it was the best kabocha I’ve ever used. They are the primary winter squash I eat because I love them. But first red one and wow – also delicious fyi. I’ve saved the seeds so I can grow my own.)

      Even without the egg it held together fairly well for being eaten right out of the oven and it went in quite wet between the extra water and the “cheese sauce” I came up with. I used an 8×8 glass baking pan but will be doubling this recipe in the future because I know I will want this for lunches the day after! It definitely converts to vegan!

  29. Danita

    Wonderful recipe. I used brown rice lasagna sheets and broke them up. 1 5oz bag of power greens instead of spinach. I kept the water amount the same as written. I had to cook 135-140 mins total and run under the broiler a couple of mins as suggested. This will be a great make ahead meal for over the holidays.
    thanks

  30. maria grasso

    This looks amazing! HOWEVER, I’m lactose intolerant and would love to know how to make this recipe without the cheese. Any suggestions?

    1. Elizabeth Greene

      This recipe looks yummy but it has SO MUCH CHEESE… it’s a real struggle for those of us who are lactose intolerant. It’s getting slightly easier to find lactose-free cheeses (though it’s a special trip to a special grocery). Green Valley Creamery makes LF cream cheese, yoghurt, & cottage cheese though they can be hard to find. Maria, have you tried sheep milk cheeses? I’ve found a parmesan-romano sheep cheese that’s digestible.
      FYI to Deb: we lactose intolerant folks would really appreciate more recipes that are LF– either vegan or not, just minus the dairy products!

  31. Brenda

    Thanks for this delicious recipe, it was perfect – I doubled the recipe for a friend in need and for my family! Next time I will use half the salt, a tablespoon was a bit too much for us. This one will be going in my regular rotation !

  32. Rita Neal

    Wow! This is an autumnal delight! I made this for some friends last night for dinner. It is a stunning dish, way more than the sum of the parts. I highly recommend. Thanks Deb for tweaking this dish to perfection!

      1. Fleur

        Oh please let me know how it turned out! I want to make this tomorrow and was thinking of using Farfalle because my cupboard is already full of different pastas and they’re the “flatter” ones :)

  33. David

    Hi – ready to make for Sunday dinner tomorrow.
    2 questions:
    How many servings does this make (for big eaters!)
    Suggestion for a side dish? (Maybe a salad?)

    Thanks!

  34. Donna Slack

    I’m gathering everything right now!
    I only have a 7” springform Pan, so safe to say I should bake it a little bit longer, correct?

  35. Mary

    In a word… DIVINE! Made it last night – as written. Will definitely add it to the rotation. Thank you for another delicious recipe!

  36. Amber

    Made this for dinner last night and it was amazing! I’m not usually a fan of ricotta. And I don’t usually like butternut squash mixed into recipes. But that picture was so beautiful and we have been in such a recipe rut in our house that I thought I would give it a try. I am so glad I did! The end product was so flavorful and all the flavors of sage, nutmeg, garlic, salt and pepper melded with all that cheesy goodness that the squash was not as noticeable. Served it with some rustic bread for a simple dinner. I like that this is vegetarian but think a grilled sausage on the side would be a good accompaniment if you needed a larger meal (two teenage boys in this house!) This one is definitely going in the rotation!

  37. Tracy

    I made this pasta bake last night. It was amazing! I made it for friends and one of them is gluten free, so I even decided to try it with brown rice pasta. I was shaking in my boots that it would not turn out, and boy was I surprised. It was absolutely delicious! Thank you.

  38. Jess

    Made this last night- here are my notes in case they are helpful for others…
    -My large mixing bowl was not quite large enough. Readers, Deb is serious about using a LARGE mixing bowl!
    -Prep time took me much longer due to using a whole un-prepared squash. So all total it was a 3 hours from start to finish for me
    -I thought David’s kosher salt would be large enough crystals, but it was a smidge on the salty side after all with the whole tablespoon. So yes- Davids does qualify as another brand that Deb advises to use less of here.

    All in all, it was good, rich, and cozy. My toddler pretty much shoveled it in his mouth.

  39. Katie

    I’ve been on a kabocha squash kick, so I peeled one yesterday to use for this — I forget how hard they can be to peel!

    My husband can’t eat pasta due to issues with his esophagus. I’m assuming that no pasta = no water, but are there any other tweaks you’d recommend for a bake without pasta?

    1. deb

      Technically speaking, you don’t *need* to peel squash — the peel is edible — but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea to eat.

      Re, no pasta — I think it would work well, although a very different dish. It might not need as much cheese without the bulk of pasta. It also might not need 90 minutes. Let us know how it goes!

  40. Linda O

    Made this today. The flavors and texture is spot on – delicious. It took longer to cook, used a pottery baking dish, and I was patient. Cannot wait for dinner. As always, Deb, you bring it.

  41. Amy Fischer

    Absolutely delicious! Made this tonight with some precut squash from the supermarket and WOW was it good. This will absolutely go in my rotation for meatless meals and it’s also a great portable option for a potluck!

  42. Mary

    I just have t say how thankful I am for this site. The recipes are almost always delicious, Deb seems like such a sweet & funny person, and the comments are generally positive and supportive. So when someone is snarky here—and doesn’t “get it”—I feel very protective of Deb & this community. If you only want the recipe, that is fine, I guess. Cut & paste & cook. And feel free to adjust the recipe as you see fit. But please keep your arrogant, snide comments about the rest of us & our “inferior” opinions to yourself. We try to be friends here, not snobs.

    1. Fleur

      I made the recipe tonight and entered everything (having weighed all the ingredients) in MyFitnessPal.
      For 8 servings the macros are as follows:
      16.4g Fat
      30.9g Carbs (including 2.7g sugar and 1.9g fiber)
      15.4g Protein

  43. Sarah

    I made this tonight as written and it was amazing and beautiful to serve our company with a salad and chicken on the side. A total keeper!

  44. Sarah

    I substituted red kuri squash (no need to peel) and swiss chard from my fall garden, aged gouda for the fontina and gemilli pasta and this turned out wonderfully. My squash was nearing 3lbs whole so I doubled it and baked one in a cast iron skillet to eat now, another in a springform that I will cut in half and freeze did two meals later this winter.

  45. Joanne

    Wow. I made it with whole wheat lasagna noodles broken into pieces, so I added an extra half cup of water. Normally I play it fast and loose with recipes, but I tried this one exactly as written with the above exception. It worked perfectly. The T of salt was right (I use Jacobsens kosher).

  46. monica

    Spectacular! Made it last night. Was as beautiful when came out of the springform pan and absolutely delicious. Sage was perfect! A definite make again. I am looking forward to the leftovers!

  47. Dawna Eastman-Gallo

    Made this last night; even though I continue to be inundated with tomatoes, I wanted something autumnal. It was very tasty, and got the “make it again” designation from the husband. But, the prep took a LONG time- an hour, since I had to grate both cheeses, chop the spinach, peel and cut the squash and break up lasagna into pieces. I made exactly per the recipe but might add even a little more squash next time.

  48. DEG

    Forgot to ask this seemingly silly question. I grated my parmesan cheese by hand with a microplane, and weighed as I went along to get the 100 grams, which I used and seemed like the appropriate amount, but that was just over a cup of very tightly packed cheese. If I had just used the cup measure, I wouldn’t have packed it that tightly. So what’s the right way? Weigh a block of cheese first then grate?

    1. deb

      Most grated cheeses, especially parmesan, are impossible to get a consistent weight per cup of. I use a box grater or a food processor (chopping, not grating blade). While there isn’t a correct way although I advise against the Microplane rasp for parmesan; it creates puffy cheese clouds with little weight, so 1 cup won’t provide the same flavor. Measuring by weight will always be consistent no matter what you grate with.

    1. deb

      I think the biggest concern is that it might not “submerge” or mix enough that the top noodles will bake well. Add more foil-on time if needed.

  49. Lauren

    Delish! What a great idea and so easy. I made three small casseroles (one to devour, one to freeze, one for a friend!). I used cheeses I had on hand – I think that anything reasonably melty with the Parm would be good. I am going to consider other veg for a similar idea. The house smells divine! I used my biggest bowl, so I wouldn’t slop on the counter. I think I did, nevertheless. This took about 15 minutes to put together. Yum!

    1. deb

      You should check Ottolenghi’s original recipe in The Guardian (linked in the first paragraph and above the recipe). He adds two grated tomatoes. I didn’t test it with tomatoes because I wanted it to taste like this, not that, but I am sure it works wonderfully here.

  50. Charron

    Made this last night- really outstanding. I made a few swaps based on what I had on hand- Kabocha for the butternut squash, used rigatoni for the pasta and baked it in 3” deep Corningware-style oval dish. I used an extra wide Japanese mandolin for the Kabocha and garlic. So simple and delicious!

  51. Angela

    Oh my gosh, I made this this morning. It is absolutely delicious! Followed your instructions and recipe except I used the whole container of ricotta because I knew I wouldn’t use it again soon enough. Thank you so much!

  52. Devora

    What a great recipe! I made this yesterday and used mascarpone instead of ricotta, took it to a potluck, and came back with an empty casserole dish. The mascarpone melted right into the cheese, smelled all buttery out of the oven, and tasted very luxe. 10/10 would repeat!

  53. Lara

    ok, so even for a practiced cook, peeling and slicing the squash, grating cheese, washing and draining spinach, measuring and mixing all the ingredients and putting paper in the springform definitely takes more than 15 minutes. adding two hours of time before dinner is on the table, this does not really make for a weeknight dinner. BUT for this beautiful, sunny fall Sunday, this was a very lovely meal and the family loved it. And I am not surprised (Ottolenghi + Deb = double guarantee in my book). I’m already thinking of some options like broccoli, apple and chestnuts with goat cheese! Thanks for the inspiration.

    PS: Cooking it without salt makes it a great option for baby led weaning, by the way (the rest of us put salt on it afterwards) :)

    1. Kelly

      I loved this too. Some things that helped me speed it up in case it’s useful: I used delicata (no need to peel) for the butternut, used a bag of prewashed/chopped kale, shredded mozz for the fontina (I used just a little, prob 1/3 cup, but doubled the ricotta to just use the whole container) and did the whole thing in a dutch oven so no messing with the springform or parchment. It went quickly! And so delicious. Love your goat cheese and apple idea, omg.

    2. deb

      Good point! I was thinking that if speed was a concern, people might buy prepared (i.e. peeled and seeded) squash chunks, as I did the time I photographed this. I’m glad it was a hit!

  54. Jaime Lilley

    Made this following the recipe closely, though substituting gruyère for fontina… Seriously: YUM. It was more or less instantly and fully devoured by four people. So, so good. Will be added to regular rotation. Thanks, Deb!

  55. Susan

    Can this be frozen? I would like to divide this up into 2 or 3 pans. Would I bake first then freeze? As an empty nester this is way too much food.

  56. Liz

    I had trouble with the noodles on the top not having enough liquid to cook. I add some more water after the first hour but they’re a bit on the inedible crunch side. The ones underneath cooked through just fine. Any tips for next time?

    1. deb

      You might want more foil-on time next time, just to ensure they soften enough before it begins to crisp on top. What shape did you use? (I wonder if a less flat shape needs more “submerged” time.)

  57. So first of all, I love everything I have made from you, even my husband has been on your sight to get cooking tips and he never does that.
    My question is not food based but rather technology based,does the print recipe option need an extension now? I can’t seem to print or save this recipe even after downloading the extension and probably getting on some list. BooHoo, I imagine I am missing something “ITish” about this all. I am not very good about keeping my phone/iPad open when cooking but I guess that is the backup. And another cookbook of course, but you are so prolific that a cookbook could never keep up!

    1. deb

      Thank you. Nothing should have changed in the way recipes are printed. You can print them a few ways from any post:

      * There is a print icon that leads to a print template at the bottom of each recipe, where it says “DO MORE:”
      * You can also click CTRL or ⌘ + P [on desktop] from any recipe post and it will take you to a streamlined print template.
      * File > Print on a Mac
      * From the share button (the one that looks like an up-arrow coming out of a box) at the bottom of the Safari browser on an iPhone

  58. Dana

    Made this today with some minor modifications and its delicious. Used slightly less pasta (6oz), so reduced the amount of water to 1 cup. Also, reduced the amount of parmesan by half. The kosher salt that I own is a different brand and 2 tsp worked well.

  59. Teresa

    This is sooooo good. The sage is really perfect for this dish. I used a larger grater for the butternut squash instead of slicing and it really meshed well with everything. True comfort food. The salt amount is perfect as long as you’re using kosher salt (Diamond brand ideally as the recipe states). I would think twice about dumping a TBS of table salt in for sure. I didn’t have fontina so I used what I had–the Kerry Gold dubliner brand. Thanks for a great recipe!

  60. Katie

    I want to eat this for every meal October-February. Easily the best pasta bake I’ve ever made. I subbed a rice & quinoa based GF pasta with no issues. Absolutely stellar!!

  61. Wendy

    Delicious! I subbed crumbled tofu for the ricotta to cut down on the dairy. Kept the fontina and parm. Baked in a dutch oven lined with parchment. Came out looking just like Deb’s. Fabulous fall dinner with salad.

  62. Mary Parr

    If I were to assemble this ahead of time, could I refrigerate it overnight and bake it the next day? Would that work? It looks delicious, but trying to figure out how to fit it in on a weekday!

  63. Nicole B.

    You have a real talent for knowing exactly what I want, even before I do, because every time you publish a new recipe, I realize I need it RIGHT NOW. This is not exception, and the results were amazing. Made almost exactly as written with mozzarella instead of fontina and herbs de provence in place of thyme or sage, because that’s what I had on hand.

  64. Emily

    Intent on finding fancy ruffled pasta to make this with, I impulse bought Sfoglini’s whole wheat reginetti (it was all they had at the store that was ruffle-y and more exciting than plain old lasagna) – I think the whole wheat flavor will mesh really well with the fall flavors of squash and sage, but do you think whole wheat pasta will take longer to cook from raw here than regular semolina pasta?

    1. deb

      I think you’ll be fine since there’s a full 1.5 hours in the oven, but I will say that I find that *all* of Sfoglini’s pastas take longer to cook than other brands, and longer than the package says.

  65. Sharon

    This does look delicious and a good way to use the squash from our garden. I can peel it easily after microwaving for a few minutes. Is there an easy way to slice it thinly? Has anyone done it in a processor, or would the squash be too hard? Or just to use my Chef’s knife an option also.
    Also, does the pasta shape have to be flat? Or can we use ziti or something else?

    Thanks.

    1. deb

      I only tested it with flat pasta but I’d expect other shapes to work, just make sure they’re well coated and pressed in the sauce for the baking time.

      Although the peels are edible, for butternut or honeynut, I usually peel the squash 2x with a y-shaped peeler, then halve, scoop, and thinly slice it, flat side down — always.

  66. Natalie

    I’m glad so many others loved this, but my finished product was a disaster. After trying a few bites, we threw the whole thing away and my husband is now out getting us a pizza. I’m a pretty experienced cook, and although I made a few small substitutions (delicata instead of butternut, a different kind of pasta and a casserole dish instead of a springform), I otherwise followed the recipe exactly. I should have trusted my gut when the proportions seemed off, but now I’ve wasted my time and a ton of ingredients. Beware, this recipe needs more testing.

    1. Julia

      Surprising that so many others seem to have had no problems—can you say more about what was wrong with it? What proportions were off? Thinking of making this soon so I’m curious.

  67. Cara

    This was amazing. We have 2 gluten intolerant family members and I decided to leave out the pasta instead of using chickpea pasta. I subbed 3.5 c chopped butternut squash for the pasta (in addition to the squash already called for), added a little extra spinach, and left out the water. Added some Aleppo pepper as well as some chopped parsley. Texture was great, and it was full of flavor- like a firm vegetable gratin. I considered adding some chickpeas for protein but I am glad I didn’t. Next time I would sauté the garlic before adding it, or cut the amount in half. Recommend using a food processor to slice the squash to save time.

  68. Emily H

    Made this tonight with butternut squash, Trader Joe’s GF rice & quinoa pasta, and 1 c water and it turned out beautifully, although next time I’ll cut down on the salt. Used Diamond kosher salt and it was still too much for me. But the flavor is wonderful, especially with fresh sage.

  69. This was an excellent dish for a lazy, rainy day. Prep was super easy (I used delicata and honey nut squash). Just need to be patient, bake and rest according to the instructions. Delicious! The squash and noodles cooked up perfectly. Used pecorino & sage.

  70. Denise

    Made this last night, and it is terrific! Bonus: the house smelled terrific too, if ya like that sorta thing. Flavors are phenomenal. Takes a heck of a lot more than 15 minutes to prep, though – squashes can be dangerous and I’m not a fast cheese grater. But it was all worth it! Don’t be tempted to just use up that bigger squash or all the spinach in the bag, because there is no way it will fit in the pan, this recipe fills it up. Use amounts given, but sure, try subbing some ingredients, it’ll be yummy.

  71. Carolyn

    I made this for dinner last night – The only changes I made to the recipe was using Greyere cheese and adding a full container of ricotta (450 grams). It was amazing. The layers of flavours were superb – restaurant and company worthy. Thank you, Deb!

  72. Cathy Dellinger

    Absolutely fabulous. I subbed Swiss chard for the spinach. Served it as a side and have enough left over for another meal. Really good and fun to make. I did cheat a bit using precut squash. Too crazy to do battle with the whole butternut. Thanks Deb!

  73. Patti

    Made this yesterday. Easy to pull together. Ate a corner of it after the rest period and thought, meh. But then, I had some this morning for breakfast (don’t ask, lol) and WOW! The flavors really come together and it’s so, so much better the next day.

  74. Angela

    Delish! I added green onion, more fresh herbs, a little less salt and a little more cheese ;)
    Probably could add any extra vegetables to this and it will be amazing.

  75. Cheryle

    Someone made this recipe in a vegan version, and I’m wondering if they would share. There are dairy, soy, gluten issues in the family, and I’m wondering what cheeses were used. Thanks.

  76. Kathy

    I followed the directions mostly as written, only switching to kale from spinach and used gluten-free lasagna noodles. I baked it in a 9 x 13 dish and timing was perfect. Overall it was delicious, however it was much too salty. Next time I’ll use less or leave it out and add when cooked.

  77. Rosanna

    If I wanted to double this and bake in a casserole dish, would a deep 9″ x 13″ lasagna pan be big enough, and would the cook time increase substantially? Thank you!

  78. Alyssa

    Wow, this was delicious even though we made an error. My husband made it last night and forgot to add the water (whoops). He added it halfway. Towards the end, it still seemed wet but the pasta was done so he drained off the water and let it crisp. I was skeptical that the dish would be ruined but it was delicious. Will double next time. We used cottage cheese instead of ricotta and a generic Swiss block because that’s what we had. My picky toddler even at a few pasta noodles that still had a little spinach on them. Success!

  79. Lynn

    Made this Saturday – Delicious!! Definitely a do again in the recipe rotation.
    I used Mozzarella instead of Fontina and dried spaghetti.
    The bake time was perfect.
    Thanks Deb for another great recipe !!

  80. natalie

    Do you have a vegetarian substitute for Parmesan (animal rennet used in DOP)? Thanks!
    *I know of Twineham Grange but hard to find in u.s. (British cheese)

  81. Sue M

    I made a double batch yesterday in two 9×13 pans. My husband and I ate 3/4 of one last night (we were hungry!!) and I am bringing the second to a potluck tonight. It was DELICIOUS! So good, in fact that I am making it again the day after tomorrow to bring to a friend’s for dinner.

    You need a REALLY BIG bowl to mix all the ingredients. I had started the two recipes in two large mixing bowls but then had to dump the contents one at a time into my 6 qt Kitchenaid bowl to do the mixing.

  82. LindaJ

    Warning – if you ask the kiddos to break lasagna noodles into pieces you will have shards of pasta all over your kitchen!
    Lucky me, I had all the ingredients to make this in my fridge ( with chard in place of spinach). Everyone enjoyed it. Even the pickiest child said he liked it.

  83. Anne

    I don’t have a spring form pan. Which do you think would work closest (I am specifically wondering about cooking times as posted in your recipe) – an 8×8 square ceramic baking dish or a 9×13 Pyrex?

  84. KimS

    I made this last night (Sunday). Planning on this serving as dinner/lunches to help my week go smoothly. It tastes wonderful! I used rotini pasta and mozzarella because I could not find fontina. I did a scant tablespoon of salt because I was not sure where my kosher salt stood! I will say I was worried about the pasta being cooked enough—like another user who noticed that pasta on top didn’t seem to be cooked (kind of dried out). The pasta in the rest of the dish was perfect. I think the solution will be next time to push down the pasta such that it’s not directly on top (most of it was like this anyway!). Thanks for a great fall recipe!

  85. Carrie Junod

    I took a gamble and made this with gluten free shells (couldn’t find anything flat/lasagna like), and it turned out great, even for leftovers. Thanks for adding a new staple to our lineup!

  86. I made it this weekend and it was delicious! So good that 8 servings is extremely tempting to turn into 4 servings… I made it as described, except with 100g extra squash and with 1/2 T non-kosher salt instead of 1 T kosher. A few notes:

    -Took me longer to prep than expected (~45 minutes, but part of that time included running out to the garden for sage, washing a couple dishes, and rescuing the robotic vacuum, so probably ~30 minutes without distractions). Peeling and slicing the squash was the main time thief – I may try with larger chunks next time.

    -After cooling on the rack for 30 minutes, it was still a bit too messy to sit prettily by itself on a serving plate. Deb does note that 30 minutes is the minimum, so I was forewarned, but I wanted to reinforce her note. :-)

    -After those 30 minutes cooling, it was jussssst starting to transition from perfect warmth to a little too cool. If you are making this for a fancy meal, you may want to make it the day before so that not only will it look pretty, but you can also reheat it to the perfect temperature.

    -If you are on WW (Weight Watchers), 1 slice is 9 points on Green.

    Thank you, Deb, for delicious and healthy fall recipe!

  87. Jennie

    This looks fabulous. Has anyone tried it with whole wheat pasta? I’m wondering if it will need a parboil? Thank you so much for simplifying this dish!!!
    Can’t wait!! Makes the early dark more tolerable to eat squash.