Butternut Squash and Almond Ricotta Pasta Bake
I feel like there's no other vegetable that embodies fall more than squash or pumpkin. September hits and it's like BAM endless squash and pumpkin recipes take over our Pinterest boards and Instagram feeds! I don't know about you, but it makes me happy. I absolutely love pumpkin and squash of all varieties, and when they're in season, their flavors are just next level. They're so versatile, and take well to so many different seasonings. Pumpkin is easily incorporated into a bunch of cuisines - I love it in Mexican burrito bowls, Asian stir fries, as Vegan Mac n' Cheese sauce, and simmered in Indian curries.
But you know what else it's also delicious in? Pasta. Duh.
I used 3 different kinds of vegan cheese in this one to load it up with that hearty cheesy flavor. For the ricotta, I used Kite Hill brand - they make really yummy almond based cheeses that have really simple ingredients with no additives. For the mozzarella, I had Miyoko's Creamery on hand. The sell the coconut oil based mozzarella in a traditional ball shape, and it grates and melts perfectly. For the parmesan, I had Follow Your Heart shreds, which are also coconut oil based. They don't melt amazingly, but they have that really nice salty parmesan flavor that's just the perfect addition to any pasta dish. These are all available at Whole Foods Market. Alternatively, you could dive into the world of creating your own plant-based cheeses! That's definitely on my next "skills to learn" list.
-1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small cubes
-3 cups spinach
-large bunch basil, finely chopped
-2 packages Kite Hill almond ricotta
-1 1/2 cups grated Miyokos Creamery mozzarella
-1/2 cup Follow Your Heart parmesan shreds
-1/2 cup breadcrumbs of choice
-1 package pasta of choice
1. Preheat oven to 350F (175C).
2. Cook your pasta according to packaging. Drain and rinse with cool water to prevent sticking, then set aside.
3. Peel and chop butternut squash into little bite sized cubes. Toss with olive oil (optional), salt, pepper, and dried basil. Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
4. Simply sauté the spinach in a nonstick pan until wilted. I didn't use oil to avoid making the dish overly oily. As an alternative you could use a bit of water or vegetable broth. Once wilted, pat down with a towel to remove some moisture.
5. Wash and finely chop your basil.
6. Grate your mozzarella.
7. Once all of the elements are complete, combine the cooked pasta, butternut squash, spinach and basil in a bowl along with the ricotta and mozzarella. Mix well.
8. Place the pasta mixture in a baking dish and spread evenly. Top with salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, and parmesan.
9. Bake the pasta in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
10. Remove, and serve warm. Top with optional crushed red pepper flakes for an extra bite!