Tuesday, October 28

Pumpkin & Pancetta Baked Pasta

A creamy, cheesy baked pasta with roasted pumpkin and crispy pancetta

Pasta Al Forno with Pumpkin and Pancetta

I've had this baked pasta on my saved recipes list at Food52 for years and finally made it for our friends' Halloween party last weekend. It's everything that a baked pasta should be: rich and cheesy with crunchy brown bits at the top and lots of flavor surprises running through each bite. Pumpkin (or butternut squash) gets used twice in the pasta: blended with cream and cheese for the incredible pumpkin cream sauce and diced into chunks for bites of sweet roasted pieces mixed in with the noodles. Pumpkin is inherently sweet, but the mix of salty cheeses and crispy porky pancetta lardons keep the dish feeling savory. It's a great main course for a fall or winter night and travels well for a potluck. I imagine that it would be easy to reheat in the oven if you have leftovers, too.

Related Recipes:
- Baked Mac and Cheese
- Pasta Shells with Corn, Bacon, & Chard
- Baked Penne with Sausage & Broccoli Rabe

Baked Pasta with Pumpkin & Pancetta:
- 1 3-4 lb. cheese pumpkin or butternut squash
- 1 lb. pasta shells
- 1/2 lb. diced pancetta
- 2 c. heavy cream
- 1/2 c. grated mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 c. grated fontina cheese
- 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 c. crumbled gorgonzola cheese
- 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
- olive oil
- salt
- pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Cut the pumpkin or butternut squash into quarters and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Roast the pumpkin for an hour, or until tender and caramelized in some places.
  • While the pumpkin is roasting, cook the pancetta in a skillet until crisp.
  • Scoop out 2 c. of cooked pumpkin and add to a food processor, then roughly chop another 1 1/2 c. of pumpkin. 
  • Add the heavy cream to the pumpkin in the food processor and blend to just combine.*
  • Increase the oven temperature to 500F.
  • Mix the pumpkin cream with the chopped pumpkin, crispy pancetta, mozzarella, fontina, parmesan, gorgonzola, thyme, and a big pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for 8 minutes.
  • Drain the pasta, then mix with the other ingredients. Pour the pasta into a large baking dish.
  • Bake the pasta for another 10 minutes, or until bubbling and brown in some places.
  • Let cool slightly before serving.

Serves eight-ten
*Do not over-blend or the cream will whip.