Always, always, always use the highest-quality ingredients available. Especially when you’re cooking a seasonal recipe made with just a few ingredients.
You may think the best time to buy fresh seasonal produce is during the warmer months, but fall might just be our favorite season. Whether it’s pears, apples, squash, or even herbs like rosemary and sage, we’re all about it. Hence the creation of this butternut squash recipe.
As you probably know, the casserole we call Parmesan or parmigiana is a recipe with Italian roots. With the Italian-American equivalents – aka Chicken Parm or Eggplant Parm – you’ll often find ingredients breaded and fried. The more traditional way it’s made in Italy is sans breading, making it healthier and lighter in flavor.
True, the classic Eggplant Parmesan is made with, well, eggplant, which is very much a summer ingredient. But, if you swap out the eggplant for squash, it’s just as perfect during the colder months.
In this recipe, we took that a step farther and nixed the frying. The result is a baked Butternut Squash Parmesan recipe that’s easy to assemble and less messy, yet just as comforting.
For this recipe, we wanted to show off our seasonal finds, while still keeping things relatively simple. As in the whole recipe comes together in just a few steps.
First, you make the garlic oil, which brings a load of flavor. You could make this weeks ahead of time and use it in everything from roasting vegetables to garnishing hummus FYI.
Next, you cut the squash and assemble the Parmigiana -- a task made so much easier thanks to the use of store-bought pasta sauce. Yes, pasta sauce is a year-round pantry staple. But its rich, robust flavors pair especially well with cooler-weather autumn comfort foods.
While the lot of it is roasting, you can make the optional garnishes, which include flash-fried sage and herb-infused cream. They take only a few minutes to make and make the recipe restaurant quality.
The result is a mix of fall flavors -- squash, sage, tomato sauce, and herbed cream -- that is just the right mix of healthy and decadent.
This recipe really is a one-dish meal but it is only made better by the addition of a salad. Here are a few we'd pair with this dish:
We recently discovered the thoughtfully crafted jarred pasta sauces from FarmToFork™. They're a new brand made with simple, premium ingredients like sustainably grown tomatoes and fresh garlic, basil , and onions. FarmToFork pasta sauces are made with tomatoes grown right here in California at two multi-generational family farms: Casaca Vineyards and Worth Farms.
For this recipe, I’m recommending the FarmToFork Tomato Basil or Spicy Marinara. But the brand also offers Marinara and Caramelized Onion & Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauces. Use the Tomato Basil in this Squash Parmigiana for something more classic or the Spicy Marinara for a kick of heat.
The best part about this dish is that it’s comforting and quick to make. Meaning it's can be assembled for a busy weeknight or at your next last-minute dinner party. Not to mention, it works as a side dish or a main for a comforting, casual meal (just add a fresh green salad). And, because it’s plant-based and healthy-ish, well, it’s sure to become an instant classic.
smashed and peeled (optional, for garlic oil)
(about 3 pounds)
or high-quality whole milk ricotta cheese (if using mozzarella, slice into 1/4-inch half moons)
(about 1/2 cup)
for garnish (optional)
for garnish (optional)
for garnish (optional)
for garnish (optional)
Make The Garlic Oil (optional): Heat oven to 250°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Combine the extra-virgin olive oil and garlic in a small pan and cover (use aluminum foil if the pan doesn’t come with a cover).
Place in the oven and cook for at least 45 minutes until the garlic is soft and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly before using.
Garlic oil can be made up to two weeks ahead of time. Store cooled garlic oil in a refrigerator in an airtight container and bring to room temperature before use. If you don’t have time to make the garlic oil, you can use regular extra-virgin olive oil.
Assemble The Butternut Squash Parmesan: Heat oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Meanwhile, cut the ends of the butternut squash off so that it can sit upright, then cut the bulb off of the neck (set the bulb aside for another use). Peel the butternut squash, then cut the neck in half lengthwise, placing one half cut-side down on a cutting board.
Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces (they should look like half-moons). Repeat to use up all the squash neck (you should end up with around 24 to 30 half-moons of squash).
Place all the squash pieces in a large bowl, add 1 tablespoon of the garlic oil (or olive oil), a pinch of salt, and a few cranks of freshly ground black pepper. Toss to coat.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the garlic oil (or EVOO) in an 8-by-8-inch baking dish or in a few individual baking dishes like we’ve done here. To assemble the Butternut Squash Parmesan, evenly spread 1/2 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the oiled baking dish, then arrange 6 to 8 pieces of the squash over the sauce (the pieces may overlap a bit).
Evenly distribute half of the mozzarella or ricotta and one-third of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on top of the squash, then add another 1/2 cup of the sauce. Repeat with the squash, the remaining half of the mozzarella or ricotta, one-third of the Parmigiano Reggiano, and 1/2 cup of the sauce. Repeat with a final layer of squash, 1/2 cup sauce, and the remaining grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Cover pan with foil and bake until the sauce is just starting to bubble, about 45 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until the cheese is browned, about 10 minutes more.
You can assemble the Butternut Squash Parmigiana then wrap it in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and freeze it up to one month before baking it. You can cook it from frozen and it will need at least 20 to 30 more minutes to be fully baked.
Make the Garnishes (optional): Meanwhile, prepare the garnishes if making. For the fried sage, add 1-inch of the garlic olive oil (or olive oil) to a small pot and warm over medium-high heat. Clean and dry the sage leaves and make sure you have a paper towel-lined plate nearby.
To check if the oil is ready, dip the tip of a leaf into the oil – tiny bubbles should form around the edge of the leaf. Add a handful of the leaves and remove once they crisp up and become darker green (but aren’t yet brown), about 15 seconds.
Use a slotted spoon or tongs to transfer the leaves to the paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt.
Place the cream in a small pan, add the rosemary, and cook over medium-high heat until it’s reduced by half to just 1/4 cup, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Add the pine nuts to a small frying pan over medium-low heat and toast them until just golden brown, about 10 minutes.
The sage can be fried, the cream reduced, and the pine nuts toasted all up to 2 days ahead of time. And, if you don’t have time to do any of those steps, you can omit any or all of them as garnishes. We’d suggest you garnish with fresh basil leaves if you don’t use any of the garnishes here.
Serve The Squash Parmigiana: Remove the Butternut Squash Parmesan from the oven and let cool 10 minutes before serving. Before serving, top with the fried sage leaves, the toasted pine nuts, and a drizzle of the cream.
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Sponsored Post: This recipe has is brought to you via a paid partnership with FarmToFork™Pasta Sauce. Visit the brand’s store locater to find these sauces near you. Thank you for supporting these sponsors who help keep Salt & Wind up and running.