A bowl of baked penne with butternut-sage sauce.

Here’s a dish to add to your cooking-for-a-crowd repertoire. It’s an adaptation of a long-time favorite butternut squash-sage sauce, which I typically toss with rotini (or other pasta) and serve with parmesan. Here, the par-cooked pasta is tossed with the sauce and a mix of mozzarella and parmesan, then baked in a hot oven until the the tips are crispy and the cheese has melted. It’s delicious.

A board with a butternut squash, sage, and onion.

A pot with melted butter and sage.

A colander filled with par-cooked penne.

A pot with pureed butternut squash-sage sauce.

A large bowl with penne, butternut squash sage sauce, and cheese.

A 9x13-inch pan filled with penne tossed with butternut squash sage sauce.

Just baked baked penne with butternut sage sauce.

Two bowls of baked penne with butternut sage sauce.

A bowl of butternut squash-sage baked penne.

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A bowl of baked penne with butternut sage sauce.

Baked Penne with Butternut Squash-Sage Sauce

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5 from 3 reviews

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Inspired by Al Forno’s widely adored baked pasta, this one calls for making a butternut squash-sage sauce, which can be used on its own to coat boiled noodles, but works really well in baked pasta dishes as well.


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  • 1 small bundle sage
  • 4 cups 1-inch cubes, butternut squash (about 1 lb. post peeling)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • freshly cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 pound penne
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella or fontina, cubed
  • 1/2 cup heaping (50 g) grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  1. Melt butter in a large heavy pot over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then add sage and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add cubed squash, diced onion, 1 1/2 cups water, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and pepper to taste. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until squash is very tender and water has reduced considerably, 15 to 20 minutes depending on the size of the squash pieces.
  2. If you have an immersion blender, purée mixture right in pot. If you don’t, transfer mixture to a food processor or blender and purée until smooth. Taste sauce. Add more salt if necessary. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it is too thin, simmer over low heat until it thickens. You should have about 3 cups of sauce.
  3. Preheat the oven to 500ºF. Bring a large pot of generously salted (I use 1 tablespoon kosher salt) water to a simmer. Boil penne for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Transfer penne to a large bowl. Pour the butternut sauce over top. Add the cream. Add the cubed mozzarella or fontina, grated parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and toss to coat.
  4. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish (such as a 9×13-inch pan). Transfer pasta mixture to prepared pan. Bake until bubbly and brown, 10 to 15 minutes. If pasta isn’t browned to your liking on top, turn on the broiler, pop pan under it for 3 to 5 minutes, keeping a close watch. Cool slightly before serving
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop/Oven
  • Cuisine: American