This cozy pasta dish was inspired by a trip to the Greenwich Farmers Market over the weekend. I know what you are thinking, how idyllic. Quite contrary to the typical scene of a family strolling through the market on a crisp, clear, fall day, I rolled into the market like a bat out of hell with about five minutes to spare, limited cash and two grumpy kids impatiently waiting in the car with my less-than-enthused husband who asked me more than once why we couldn’t just InstaCart. Ahh, I love the fall.
Anywho, I was hell bent on getting some fresh local produce, but I did not have much of a plan, nor too much time to formulate once I saw what was available so I grabbed a few apples, some very average cider donuts, a bunch of Swiss chard and as many delicata squash as I could carry
Once home I was able to play the thrilling game of wtf is for dinner and we landed on this baked pasta dish. Think mac and cheese meets Thanksgiving. What could go wrong?! The sauce is a classic mornay enriched with loads of Parmesan cheese. To cut through all that richness I added a touch of my favorite ingredient, Calabrian chiles, and a handful of tangy sun-dried tomatoes.
The resulting pasta dish is super comforting but also sophisticated enough to serve at your next dinner party. Sidenote: Do people still have dinner parties? If so, what do they do with their kids? Hire a babysitter? I’d rather just go out. Anyway, I hope you make this and overeat it like I did!
Swiss Chard and Delicata Squash Baked Pasta
- Olive oil, as needed
- Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 medium delicata squash, halved, seeded and sliced into half moons
- 1 pound pasta, of choice (I used rigatoni)
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems trimmed and chopped, leaves roughly chopped
- 4 tablespoons butter, plus more for the pan
- 1/ 4 cup flour
- 4 cups whole milk, warm
- 8 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ½ cups)
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- ¼ cup drained, oil-packed, sliced sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons chopped Calabrian chili peppers
- 2 (8 ounce) balls fresh mozzarella cheese, torn by hand
- 1 handful fresh sage
- Maldon, to finish
- Crushed red pepper flakes, to finish
Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the delicata squash and drizzle lightly with about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast, turning once, for 15- 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown and tender. Set aside.
Reduce oven temperature to 350˚F and butter a 9 by 13 inch baking dish, set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside in the large pot used to cook the pasta.
To a large, deep, sauté pan add about 1 tablespoon olive oil and set over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and chard stems and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add chard leaves and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add to pasta.
To a medium, deep, sauté pan, add butter and melt over low heat. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes, or until it turns golden brown and smells nutty.
Slowly add milk, a little at a time, while whisking constantly. When all of the milk has been incorporated, increase heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce has thickened and can coat the back of a spoon, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in a pinch of salt, Parmesan cheese and nutmeg.
Add the cheese sauce to the pasta, tossing to coat, then stir in sun-dried tomatoes, Calabrian chili and reserved roasted squash. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to the prepared baking dish, then top with torn mozzarella.
Bake for 30 minutes, then broil on high for 1-2 minutes, or until the top is bubbly and brown.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Before serving, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium in a small sauté pan. Once shimmering, add sage and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until crisp. Drain on paper towels, then add to cooked pasta.
Finish pasta with a pinch of Maldon and red pepper flakes and serve warm.
I’ve had the bourbon shortbread cookies and they taste like a true “Old Fashion”.
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