Spicy Butternut Squash Pasta With Spinach
Here’s a vegetable-filled pasta bake that comes together in under an hour. The most time-consuming part of this recipe is prepping the squash. You can buy precut squash, or cut it yourself: Trim the ends so that it can stand up flat. Use a sturdy vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Cut off the bulbous part from the neck. Scoop the seeds out of the bulbous part. Half the squash lengthwise, then cube it. If you’re sensitive to heat, leave out the jalapeños, or remove the seeds before slicing into rounds and placing on top.
- Serves: 4 persons
- Kosher salt
- 3tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
- 1medium butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeds removed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
- 1tablespoon ground cumin (see Tip)
- ½teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more as needed
- 1pound penne or other tubular pasta
- 1cup low-sodium vegetable broth (or water)
- ¾cup grated Parmesan
- 3packed cups baby spinach
- 1(8-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size chunks
- 1jalapeño, sliced into rounds
- ⅓cup flat-leaf parsley and tender stems, roughly chopped
Step 1Bring a large covered pot of heavily salted water to a boil.
Step 2Meanwhile, in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet with high sides and a tight-fitting lid (or a Dutch oven), heat the oil over medium-high until shimmering. Add the squash and season with salt, cumin and red-pepper flakes. Cook, stirring every minute, until squash becomes browned in spots and feels just tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
Step 3Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook, uncovered, until not quite al dente, 3 to 4 minutes less than the package instructions. (It should be a little too firm to the bite.) Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain. If the pasta is done before the squash, then stir in a drizzle of olive oil so that it doesn’t stick together.
Step 4When the squash is just tender, add the broth. Bring to an active simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is soft and easily mashable, 10 to 12 minutes. Turn off the heat, then use a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon to crush about half of the butternut squash and leave the rest chunky. Season the squash to taste, keeping in mind that salty Parmesan will be added soon.
Step 5Add the cooked pasta to the skillet along with 1 cup reserved pasta water and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, stirring vigorously to combine. Stir in the spinach one handful at a time until it shrinks down a little.
Step 6Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, the mozzarella and jalapeño, then place in the oven, on a sheet pan if you are worried about dripping. Cook until the top is melted and browned in spots, 12 to 15 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil, top with parsley and serve.