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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Newman

Baked Penne with Squash and Goat Cheese

For every holiday dinner, I always include a baked pasta dish, and this one's perfect for the season. I love doing baked pastas for big family dinners because you can totally assemble in advance, and bake until golden brown and bubbly just in time for guests to arrive.

Baked Penne with Squash and Goat Cheese


Main Course

Prep Time

10 minutes

Cook Time

50 minutes




Giada De Laurentiis

Image of Baked Penne with Squash and Goat Cheese


    For The Topping:

  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • For The Pasta:

  • 4 tablespoons 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots (chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (plus additional for the pasta water)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, such as Petra
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • One 10-ounce delicata squash (halved lengthwise, seeds discarded and sliced into 1/4-inch half-moons)
  • 1 pound short pasta, such as Penne, Rigatoni or Ziti Corti
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 pound broccoli rabe (trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces)


  1. This recipe originated on Giada’s Holiday Handbook. Episode: Giada’s Holiday Challenge.
  2. Special equipment: a pasta spider
  3. For the topping: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Mix together the panko, olive oil and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  5. For the pasta: Heat a large ovenproof braiser over medium heat. Melt the butter in the braiser and add the shallots, pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until the shallots begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the flour and stir to cook out some of the raw flour taste, about 2 minutes. Slowly begin to add the milk, adding a small amount at a time and whisking after each addition, until smooth. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the goat cheese, 1 cup mozzarella and the squash. Season with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
  6. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Season well with salt. Cook the pasta for about 6 minutes (it should still be very firm). Using a pasta spider, remove the pasta directly to the sauce but do not yet stir it in. Sprinkle the plain pasta with the Parmesan and stir to combine. Add the broccoli rabe to the pasta water and cook for 30 seconds. Use the pasta spider to drain well, then add to the pasta. Stir to evenly distribute. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and the panko mixture. Bake until bubbly all over, 20 to 25 minutes. Switch to the broiler and broil for 5 minutes to brown the top, if desired.



per serving
Amount/Serving % Daily Value
40 grams
26 grams
27 grams
Saturated Fat
14 grams
61 milligrams
1911 milligrams
5 grams
12 grams

2 reviews & comments

  • Author's avatar image
    Holly p

    Really good! I would suggest roasting the squash with a little salt and EVOO for a few before mixing into the pasta for baking, otherwise the squash is on the hard side.

  • Author's avatar image

    This made an easy, delicious, and meat-free Christmas Eve dinner. Rather than using delicata squash, I stirred roasted butternut squash into the cheese mixture, leaving some chunky pieces. The dish comes out of the oven beautifully golden-crusted flecked with green. Served with the Fungi alla Florentina on this site which was a great combo. Will definitely make both dishes again.

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