squash and ricotta bake

Wow! This was a great Sunday dinner recipe.  It took a little more time because it required roasting and then a quick return to the oven to melt a cheesy topping.  The little bit of extra time was totally worth it.  I would’ve never imagined that roasted squash paired so well with basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella.  This was truly fantastic!

hope this makes your belly smile…

Adapted from Jamie Oliver

1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and chopped into bite-size cubes
(tip: microwave the squash whole for 1 minute to make for easier peeling)
3 T. olive oil (divided into 1 T, 2 T)
1 bunch of fresh organic basil, (stem finely sliced, leaves roughly chopped)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 can organic diced tomatoes
Pinch sea salt
1 lb. 100% whole wheat penne pasta
freshly ground black pepper
3 T. organic, whole milk ricotta cheese
3 c. organic vegetable stock
4 oz. mini mozzarella balls (ciliegine)
1 handful Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (ideally)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (bake, not convection).  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.  Toss butternut squash cubes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and several pinches of sea salt.  Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, heat a large skillet to medium heat.  Add the olive oil and basil stems and garlic.  Once the garlic becomes fragrant (about a minute), add the diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Stir in the squash after roasting and some freshly ground black pepper.

While the sauce is simmering, bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta.  Undercook the pasta by several minutes before draining (do NOT rinse).  Add the pasta to a slightly oiled baking dish.

To the sauce, stir in the chopped basil leaves and vegetable broth.  Again, bring it to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer.  Stir in the ricotta cheese.  Pour the sauce atop the pasta in the baking dish and gently stir.  Place the mini mozzarella balls in and around the pasta – using your fingers to push it into nooks and crannies.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the mozzarella has melted.  Plate and serve with some freshly grated parmesan cheese and a final drizzle of olive oil.


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