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  • Megan

baked lemon ricotta pasta with roasted delicata squash

Updated: May 27, 2023

In this dish:

delicata squash

yellow onion


olive oil


rotini (or similar)




lemon zest and juice


red pasta sauce

shredded mozzarella

Has anyone else noticed? Daylight has begun to creep into the early evening. Strange: I feel like in previous years, I wouldn’t typically register this change until mid-March. And I’m not complaining exactly; it’s just that for me, this reminder that spring is on its way is also a reminder of what’s on its way out. I’m suddenly feeling protective of winter’s long, lamplit evenings and warm comfort meals.

That’s why over the next couple of months, I’ll be making as many pasta bakes, casseroles, stews, and other comfort dishes as I can while it still feels good to stand at a hot stove or oven. This includes my latest: a baked pasta of sweet roasted delicata squash, hearty kale, three kinds of cheese, and just a kiss of lemon brightness. It’s meals like this that make dinner an event—something to look forward to after a day (a week, a month…) that’s looked a lot like the one before it.

Spring isn’t far off; but I’m still here in winter.

Serves 2 to 4


small delicata squash (half a butternut squash works too)

One quarter large yellow onion (or half of a small onion)

2 cloves garlic

olive oil


8 oz rotini, rigatoni, or similar pasta shape

a few leaves of kale, chopped

½ cup ricotta cheese

¼ cup fresh parmesan, plus more for serving

1 teaspoon lemon zest

one large wedge of lemon juice

pepper to taste

½ to 1 cup tomato pasta sauce (depending on preference)

1 cup shredded mozzarella


1. Heat a large pot of water for the pasta. While it heats up…

2. Cut the squash in half along its length. Scoop out the seeds and then cut the squash into half-circle pieces (or quarter-circle, if you want smaller pieces). No need to peel the skin off a delicata squash!

3. Place the squash onto a pan or baking dish. Slice the onion, peel the garlic (keep cloves whole or halved), and add both to the pan. Coat the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt.

4. Roast the squash, onion, and garlic at 400°F for about 20 minutes or until squash and onion start to char along the edges.

5. When the water comes to a boil, throw in some oil and salt before adding the dried pasta. Cook the pasta to al dente. When pasta is almost done, scoop out ½ cup pasta water and set aside. Chop the kale and throw it in the cooking water just before draining. Drain the pasta and kale.

6. In the empty cooking pot, whisk together the ricotta, parmesan, lemon zest and juice, and ¼ cup reserved cooking water. Season with salt and pepper.

7. Add the drained pasta and kale back to the pot and stir to coat with the cheese sauce.

8. From the pan of roasted vegetables, pick out the roasted garlic cloves and chop them up. Mix into the pasta along with the roasted squash and onions.

9. Line the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil and ¼ to ½ cup tomato pasta sauce. Fill the dish evenly with the pasta. Top the pasta with another quarter to half cup tomato sauce and the shredded mozzarella.

10. Turn your oven to broil. Bake the pasta for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the cheese just starts to turn golden.

11. Top the baked pasta with more olive oil, parm, and pepper.


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