Welcome to another edition of Mystery Dish! This month Krista from Joyful Healthy Eats challenged us to use three of the following ingredients: lamb, apple, butternut squash, puff pastry, Frosted Flakes, goat cheese, fresh rosemary, cherry pie filling, spinach, or corinader. I decided to use apples, butternut squash, and fresh rosemary to make a delightfully cheesy baked pasta.
The pasta features two kinds of cheese AND chicken sausage [that also contains spinach--bonus points for me!], so when I was trying to come up with a name for this dish, Ben suggested we called it “cheesy baked everything pasta” because it contains everything that’s good… fruit, cheese, veggies, meat, pasta. Pretty much all we eat on a regular basis. If only I had also included yogurt! Haha.
Anyways, this pasta is basically a kicked up mac ‘n cheese. All the magic begins with the sauce. While this sauce does include cheese–swiss and ricotta, to be precise, what makes this sauce stand out is that it starts with butternut squash soup. So Krista, I hope you don’t mind that I took a little liberty with this month’s ingredients. At the core, butternut squash soup still features the squash itself as the star ingredient. For my dish, you can make your own soup [use leftovers] or use some storebought soup. Either way, butternut squash soup is so creamy that it thickens up perfectly with a little flour, seasonings [rosemary!!!], and cheese. It’s the perfect coating for pasta, sweet apple slices, and sliced chicken sausage.
Now, I know for the hardcore mac ‘n cheese lovers out there, there may be two red flags. First, the cheeses. Ricotta and swiss are NOT very strong. But they are flavorful and creamy, which helps this baked pasta dish stay velvety and indulgent on the inside, while still being a little crisp and heartier on the top. [On a sidenote, I love baked pasta so much because I adore standing in the kitchen after dinner, picking at the dish and grabbing the crunchy, cheese-covered noodles. Ben makes fun of me, but please tell me I'm not the only one who does this?!?] Also, this dish is a little sweeter than your average pasta… but really, the apples are just a fun addition and pair so well with the rustic herb-flavored chicken sausage and the woody rosemary. Cheesy Baked Everything Pasta is truly a great fall dinner… comforting and full of amazing fall tastes! I can’t wait to make it again!
Cheesy Baked Everything Pasta [adapted from Eats Well With Others]
- 16 ounces rigatoni
- 32 ounces butternut squash soup [storebought or homemade]
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 6 sprigs fresh rosemary, divided
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups grated Swiss cheese, divided
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 2 apples, sliced [I used Jonathan]
- 12 ounces chicken sausage, sliced [I used Trader Joe's Spinach, Fontina, & Roasted Garlic variety]
- 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9×13 inch baking dish by greasing with cooking spray.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook rigatoni for 3 minutes less than the recommended cooking time. Drain and return to pot, setting off the heat.
Meanwhile, heat the soup over medium heat. Stir in the flour, half the rosemary, and some pepper. Simmer until it starts to thicken, then add half the swiss cheese and all the ricotta cheese.
Add cooked pasta to sauce, then fold in apple and chicken sausage slices. Pour into greased baking dish, then top with remaining rosemary, swiss cheese, and panko bread crumbs.
Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread crumbs are golden brown.
Time: 45 minutes.
Yield: 8-10 servings.
Be sure to check out the other recipes for this month’s Mystery Dish here: