Butternut Squash Baked Shells
One 3 pound butternut squash, peeled and seeded
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound conchiglie rigate (medium shells)
2 cups heavy cream
½ pound shredded fresh mozzarella
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano
½ cup fontina, coarsely grated
1/4 cup ricotta
2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves
1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Cut the squash into large (3-inch) chunks, and toss together in a large mixing bowl with the olive oil, salt, and sugar. Arrange the squash in one even layer on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven until tender and beginning to caramelize, 20-30 minutes.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for exactly 5 minutes, drain and rinse with cool water. Set aside in the colander.
3. Add half the roasted squash and the cream to a small food processor or blender, and puree until smooth. Roughly chop the remaining squash.
4. Carefully pour the squash-cream mixture into the mixing bowl. Add the cheeses, ½ teaspoon salt, and the thyme, and stir to combine. Fold in the pasta and the chopped squash.
5. Raise the oven temperature to 500°F.
6. Spread the pasta evenly in a casserole or baking dish. Bake uncovered for 7 to 10 minutes, until the top is browned and the bottom layer of pasta is just tender.