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Cheesy Butternut Kale Pasta Bake

curly pasta in a white bowl with cheese and greens and sage leaf garnish

(Payton Knoblech/WTIU/WFIU)

It’s creamy, it’s cheesy, it’s decadent. But, it is also packed with kale and butternut goodness. Think of it as “sophisticated mac n’ cheese.” This kale and butternut pasta bake is wintertime comfort food at its finest.

Check out this video on our YouTube channel, of Kayte Young walking through the steps. 

This dish is inspired by one I found on New York Times Cooking, by Sarah Jampel.

Cheesy Butternut Kale Pasta Bake

1 pound pasta, medium-sized shape
1 bunch kale (about 1 pound), stems removed, chopped or torn or chiffonade
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup grated Gruyère
1 cup mozzarella
1 ½ cups pureed butternut squash 
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt,
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup heavy cream or half and half
¼ cup vegetable broth
½ cup ricotta cheese

First roast the squash and garlic. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the butternut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Brush the cut side with a bit of olive oil, and place on a baking or roasting pan. Place a clove of garlic (unpeeled) in each of the hollowed out part. Bake for 30 or 40 minutes or until the squash is squishy. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Peel the garlic and set aside. Scoop out the squash, mash it with a fork or potato masher, and measure out 1 ½ cups.

Bring oven up to 450 and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. 

Cook the pasta in generously salted boiling water for 4-5minutes, adding the kale for the last minute. Drain the pasta and kale, rinse under cold water.

Combine pasta, kale and the chopped herbs in a large bowl. Blend together pureed butternut, salt, pepper, and roasted garlic into a smooth mixture. Slowly whisk in the cream and vegetable broth until mixture is smooth.) Add the sauce to the bowl with the pasta, then the grated cheese (all but 1/2 cup) and stir together. Pour the pasta mixture into the baking dish.

Drop spoonfuls of the ricotta across the pasta and top with the remaining grated cheese. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until brown and bubbly. After the dish cools for 5 minutes, garnish with additional chopped herbs and serve. 

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