With roasted butternut squash and sage mixed in to the pasta and cheese sauce, plus a sage-breadcrumb topping, this casserole from chef Mitch Rosenthal's book Cooking My Way Back Home has a delightful balance of textures.

Serves 6


  • 1-pound piece butternut squash, peeled and cut into large batons
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
For cheese sauce:
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp. all–purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 11/3 cups grated Fontina
  • 3/4 cup crumbled Point Reyes Original Blue, Maytag Blue, or other good-quality blue cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
For topping:
  • 4 thick slices coarse country bread such as pain levain
  • Few drops of olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the squash in a bowl, drizzle with the 2 tablespoons of oil, sprinkle with the sage, and toss to coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Spread in a single layer on a sheet pan, place in the oven, and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Bring a large pot filled with salted water to a boil. Add the penne, stir, and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain into a colander and hold under cold running water to stop the cooking. Transfer to a large bowl, drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil, and toss to coat.

To make the cheese sauce, in a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Whisk in the flour, then whisk constantly for 3 to 4 minutes to cook away the raw flour taste. Slowly add the milk and cream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Raise the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until reduced by a third. Remove from the heat, add all of the cheeses, and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

To make the topping, cut off and discard the crusts from the bread slices, then cut the slices into cubes. Place the cubes in a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a bowl, add the oil, and season with salt and pepper, then toss to mix. Add the Parmesan and the sage, and stir to mix.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Add the cheese sauce and squash to the pasta and stir to mix well. Transfer the mixture to a 9x13-inch baking dish and scatter the topping evenly over the surface. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until heated through, the topping is lightly browned, and the cheese sauce is bubbly. Serve immediately.

From Cooking My Way Back Home (Ten Speed Press) by Mitch Rosenthal.


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