One of our top rules in the kitchen? Always, always, always use the highest-quality ingredients available. Especially when you’re cooking a seasonal fall harvest 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 harvest offers its own influx of delicious flavors. Whether it’s pears, apples, squash, or even herbs like rosemary and sage, we’re all about diving right into fall flavors like those whipped up in this Butternut Squash Parmesan 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.
The classic Eggplant Parmesan is made with summery ingredients, but if you swap out the eggplant for squash, it’s just as perfect during the colder months. We took that a step farther and nixed the frying for a baked Butternut Squash Parmesan recipe that’s easy to assemble and less messy than the traditional recipe (read: no frying!), yet just as comforting as the classic.
For this recipe, we wanted to show off our seasonal finds, while still keeping things relatively simple using a clean-label, high-quality jarred pasta sauce. Pasta sauce is a year-round pantry staple, but its rich, robust flavors pair especially well with cooler-weather autumn comfort foods. Made by combining fall flavors like squash, sage, tomato sauce, and an herbed cream, this is just the right mix of healthy and decadent.
We recently discovered the thoughtfully crafted jarred pasta sauces from FarmToFork™, 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 only two multi-generational family farms: Casaca Vineyards and Worth Farms.
For this recipe, I’m recommending FarmToFork Tomato Basil or Spicy Marinara, but the brand also offers Marinara and Caramelized Onion & Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauces as well. Each sauce is rich and distinctive, but our favorites for this Butternut Squash Parmigiana recipe are the Tomato Basil for something more classic or the Spicy Marinara for a little kick of heat thanks to the Calabrian chili peppers.
The best part about this dish is that it’s comforting and quick enough to prepare on 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 a 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)
For 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 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.
For 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 (of 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 using the 8-by-8-inch baking dish, evenly spread 1/2 cup of the sauce on the bottom, then arrange 6 to 8 pieces of the squash in a layer over the sauce (the pieces can overlap a bit).
Evenly distribute half of the mozzarella or ricotta and one-third of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese in a layer on top of the squash, then top with another 1/2 cup of the sauce. Repeat all of that again with 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.
For Garnishes (optional): Meanwhile, prepare the garnishes, if making. For the fried sage, add 1-inch of the garlic olive oil (or oliv 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.
To Finish Up: Remove the Butternut Squash Parmesan from the oven and let cool 10 minutes before serving. Just 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.