Are you also a butternut squash / pumpkin lover? Shops are filled with these beauties in this season and I could easily eat squash every day. Last week I made butternut squash gnocchi, but today I wanted to try something different.
Pasta bake is a classic Italian meal and a great option for easy, comfort food. Even more comforting than that is stuffed pasta bake! Conchiglioni pasta well serves this purpose: I stuffed each conchiglioni pasta with a mashed squash mixture spiced with a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. Each conchiglioni pasta is then filled with a couple of mozzarella cubes that, when baked, create a soft, stringy cheese heart. I then topped the pasta with some more mozzarella cubes and crumbled feta, which work very well with the squash. Yum!
For this recipe, I used a rectangular tray of 24cmX18cm.
Butternut Squash Stuffed Pasta Bake
Clean the butternut squash and roughly chop it. Heat 2 tbsp of EVO oil in a large pan, add the clove of garlic (whole) and let sizzle for a few seconds. Add the chopped squash, season with cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, and mix well. Add the bay leaves, cover the pan with a lid and cook for 15 minutes.
In the meantime cook the pasta in salted boiling water. Cook it only halfway through, as the pasta will finish cooking in the oven. Once ready, drain the pasta from any water and set aside to cool down. Dice the mozzarella and let it drain from any excess liquid.
Preheat oven at 180C. When the squash is cooked, mash it with a fork until you get a smooth creamy mixture. Taste and adjust with salt if needed. Layer 2 tablespoons of squash mixture on the bottom of your tray and drizzle a little olive oil. Take one conchiglioni pasta, place on the bottom a dice of mozzarella, then stuff it with a tablespoon of squash mixture. Place the stuffed pasta on the tray. Repeat with each pasta piece.
Spread all the remaining mozzarella on top of the pasta and crumble the feta cheese as well. Add a drizzle of oil and approx. 2 tablespoons of milk on the bottom of the tray.
Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then turn on grill mode and grill for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese looks nice and crispy. Wait 5 minutes before serving.