Pasta with Roasted Squash and Ricotta Salata

I love an easy week night dish.

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Usually my go to if I don’t have time or don’t feel like getting too involved with cooking is a simple plate of pasta with steamed vegetables and freshly grated cheese.  Sometimes, even though I’m going for easy, I get inspired along the way and start adding things.  Such is the case with this Pasta with Roasted Squash and Ricotta Salata.

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I’m not exactly sure how this one came together, but I know it started with the fact that I wanted to try something with ricotta salata.  Ricotta salata is an Italian cheese made from the whey part of sheep milk, which is pressed, salted and aged for at least 90 days. The texture is totally different than the spoonable ricotta you are used to buying in a plastic container. It’s more like feta, but it’s kind of drier and more crumbly; it has a nice saltiness that’s not overwhelming.  You can generally find it in a well stocked gourmet cheese section, but you may need to ask.

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I started with roasting the squash.  We often do this for our quick pasta dishes just like we do with Roasted Vegetable Pasta.  This time though, no peppers or onions.  I decided to add some seasoned panko bread crumbs to give it some extra flavor and texture.

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I love adding leeks to this little mixture, but that day I didn’t have any so I went without.  Leeks are great when I add panko because they taste like little fried onion rings.  But guess what I had in my pantry to take their place?  I had those crispy fried onions that you normally use on top of the ubiquitous green bean casserole so often seen on Thanksgiving day tables. But does anyone ever use them for anything else?  If not, they should.  Those little crispies are full of great flavor and now I keep them in my pantry year ’round as a quick flavor bomb for lots of dishes.

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So, that’s it.  Cook your pasta.  Put it in a bowl and drizzle with some olive oil. Top with your roasted squash and all it’s panko crispy glory.  Crumble on some ricotta salata and some of those tasty crispy fried onions.  I can’t even tell you what a feast of flavors and textures this is! You get the crispiness from the panko and fried onions, the creamy but crumbly saltiness from the cheese and the juicy but roasted flavor from the squash. And, it still falls under an easy pasta dinner night, which means this dish has gone into regular rotation around here.

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So go forth and stock your pantry with Italian seasoned panko and crispy fried onions.  Be adventurous and try a new cheese.  Use the bounty of squash that is coming our way this summer.

Pasta with Roasted Squash and Ricotta Salata.  Some things happen accidentally.

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Others were just meant to be.

 

Pasta with Roasted Squash and Ricotta Salata

I've given you measurements as a guide, but I never really measure for this recipe. I just cut up as much squash as I have, toss it in olive oil and sprinkle bread crumbs on top. Then I make a bunch of pasta to put it on. It's an easy assemble as you go dish, so feel free to add or subtract quantities as desired.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups chopped zucchini and yellow squash about 4 small squash
  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 pound angel hair pasta or more if you like bigger servings

For the topping:

  • crumbled ricotta salata
  • crispy fried onions
  • olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Cover a large baking sheet with foil for easy clean up, then place chopped squash on the sheet.
  3. Drizzle with the 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil and toss with your hands until the squash is fully coated.
  4. Arrange the squash in one even layer on the baking sheet then season with salt and pepper. You don't need alot of seasoning since the breadcrumbs are seasoned and you'll also get some saltiness from the cheese and onions later.
  5. Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly over the squash, then bake for 25-30 minutes or until squash is tender and golden brown.
  6. Meanwhile, cook your pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  7. Arrange pasta in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, then top with roasted squash, crumbled cheese and fried onions. Serve.

Recipe Notes

*You can use Italian seasoned regular or panko bread crumbs for this. I prefer panko, but I think I may have only had regular the day I made this.

*If you can't find the crispy fried onions, I would add sliced leeks to the squash mixture to get that onion flavor. Make sure you wash them really well before using as they can be very sandy and that's one texture you definitely do not want in this dish.

*I LOVE this drizzled with a garlic infused oil. If you have it, do it.

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