Pasta Gratin with Winter Squash and Walnuts

Similar to lasagna, this festive gratin features a layering of pasta, rich sauce, braised vegetables and crusty topping.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Similar to lasagna, this festive gratin features a layering of pasta, rich sauce, braised vegetables and crusty topping.



  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 6 medium leeks, halved lengthwise, rinsed well and sliced (white and light green parts; 2 cups)
  • 1 small butternut squash (2 lbs.), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (5 cups)
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups walnuts (6 oz.)
  • 2 Tbs. plain dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 12 oz. dry gemelli or fusilli pasta (3 1/2 cups)

Tofu-garlic “cream

  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 12 medium cloves garlic, peeled (1 1/2 to 2 heads)
  • 1 lb. low-fat firm silken tofu
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard


In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add squash and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until squash is just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in vinegar and pepper. Set aside.

In food processor, combine walnuts and bread crumbs; process until walnuts are ground. Add parsley and salt to taste; pulse until blended. Transfer to medium bowl and set aside. Wipe out food processor.

Bring large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat 13 x 9-inch or other 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

Make “cream”: In medium saucepan, bring broth to a simmer over medium-low heat. Add garlic, cover and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to food processor. Add tofu, oil, mustard, cayenne and salt and pepper to taste; process until smooth. Set aside.

Add pasta to boiling water; stir to prevent sticking. Cook, stirring often, until barely tender, about 4 minutes. (Pasta will be quite firm.) Drain, rinse under cold running water, then drain again.

In large bowl, combine pasta and reserved “cream”; mix with rubber spatula. (Mixture will be soupy.) Spread half the pasta mixture in prepared baking dish. Spread with reserved squash mixture, then sprinkle with half the walnut topping. Top with remaining pasta mixture and remaining walnut topping. (Gratin can be prepared ahead to this point. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before baking.)

Bake gratin, uncovered, until golden and bubbly, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Nutrition Information

  • Calories 354
  • Carbohydrate Content 35 g
  • Cholesterol Content 0 mg
  • Fat Content 19 g
  • Fiber Content 6 g
  • Protein Content 10 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 2 g
  • Sodium Content 108 mg
  • Sugar Content 0 g

Trending on Vegetarian Times