Fall Pasta Bake with Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprout Walnut Pesto

Nothing speaks to the excitement I get when fall produce is in season quite like butternut squash. We had a hankering to make some comfort food once it cooled off a couple of weekends back, and came up with this baked pasta. I've fallen in love with Banza's chickpea pasta recently, and the shells proved to be perfect for this. 

Inspired by one of the Maltese dishes I grew up with, a simple baked pasta that always has eggs mixed in with the ricotta, it makes the dish extra hearty and delicious. The brussels sprouts walnut pesto has an incredibly earthy flavor, balancing out the roasted creaminess of the squash. Serve this with the extra pesto, dip all the things in the extra pesto, basically just don't let it go to waste.

Cheers to fall flavors.   

Fall Pasta Bake
serves 4-6
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cleaned
16 oz pasta shells
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups kale
4 tbs olive oil, divided
3/4 cup brussels sprout walnut pesto
salt and pepper 

  • Preheat oven to 400°. Chop squash into an approximate 1’’ dice. Toss with 2 tbs olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a sheet pan and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. 
  • In a stock pot, bring 6 cups of salted water to a rolling boil. When water is boiling, add pasta and cook until slightly undercooked, about 6 minutes. Remove pasta and set aside. 
  • In a skillet, warm 2 tbs olive oil over medium high heat. When oil is shimmering, add kale and season with salt and pepper. Cook until kale is just softened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. 
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese and eggs and season with salt and pepper. In a large mixing bowl, gently toss pasta with brussels sprout walnut pesto to coat. Add ricotta and egg mixture and toss until thoroughly mixed. Add roasted butternut squash and kale, tossing until all combined. 
  • Reduce oven temperature to 350°. Transfer pasta mixture to a greased 9x9 baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving. 

Brussels Sprout Walnut Pesto
2 cups brussels sprouts, cleaned and halved
1 cup basil leaves
1 cup walnuts, toasted
3 cloves garlic
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

  • In a large pot, bring water to a rolling boil. Cook brussels sprouts for about 30 seconds to quickly blanch. Remove from pot and set aside to cool. 
  • In a food processor, combine walnuts and garlic. Process to combine, about 30 seconds.
  • Add basil and brussels sprouts and process until broken down and combined, about 60 seconds.
  • Add cheese, season with salt and pepper and process for an additional 60 seconds.
  • As food processor is running, drizzle in olive oil until fully incorporated. Remove and set aside.