Sheet Pan

Fall Weeknight Pasta

March 24, 2021
43 Ratings
Photo by Jenny Huang
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

Let's not beat around the pumpkin patch: It's fall. I have this obnoxious orange-yellow-beige-brown-green knitted, striped sweater I bring out whenever the weather even tries to be brisk. Here's how it goes down:

Weather: I think I'm going to be brisk today.

Me: Go ahead, Weather! I'm ready for your games (already wearing the sweater).

I wear this sweater so often but don't really know how to wash it without shrinking it, so it's probably pretty dirty right now. Oh, look! I'm wearing it again.

It's the kind of sweater you'd want to go to work in, the kind you'd want to go on a date in, the kind you'd wear to Hobby Lobby, to Bed Bath & Beyond, and even to bed. Sure, I sleep in it; it's so soft and good to me, why wouldn't I?

On busy nights when all I want to do is wear my favorite sweater and carbo-load in front of the television with my 40-pound rescue pup in my lap, it helps to have a supper I can throw together without a second thought. Pasta is a good place to start (duh, it cooks fast). And the sheet pan method, where everything cooks at once in the same vessel, in the oven (out of sight, out of mind), means even the clumsiest cooks can manage.

Inspired by Amanda Hesser's Summer Weekend Pasta, I wanted to come up with a weeknight version for my favorite season. An ode to fall (as well to its briskness and efficiency), this easy dinner starts with a sheet pan of my favorite things to eat—guanciale (Italian cured pork jowl, the O.G. in authentic carbonara); sweet, caramelized butternut squash; and dark, iron-heavy Tuscan kale—which all get tossed into cooked orecchiette and grated over with salty Pecorino.

This pasta makes enough for two servings (and if you look at the finished dish closely enough, you'll notice that it has the same colors as my sweater). If there are two of you, then good for you! But if you're like me, happily alone, then pack half of it for lunch. "Tonight Lucullus is dining with Lucullus."

A note on guanciale: I love the fatty gaminess that crisped-up guanciale lends, but if you can't find the cheeky meat in your grocery store, then pancetta and bacon are perfectly delicious substitutes. —Eric Kim

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Fall Weeknight Pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces guanciale (or thick-cut bacon, if you can't find guanciale), cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 8 ounces butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound orecchiette
  • Freshly grated Pecorino Romano, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. While the oven is preheating at 400°F, cut up the guanciale and butternut squash. Toss them onto a sheet pan, drizzle with the olive oil, shmoosh them around a little, and roast for 30 minutes. At this point, take the sheet pan out, stir in the kale, and place back into the oven to roast for another 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil and cook the orecchiette according to the box’s instructions, usually 9 to 11 minutes or al dente. Drain and add back to the pot. Tip the contents of the sheet pan into the pasta pot and toss with the Pecorino Romano. Salt and pepper to taste.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Elaine Tripoulas
    Elaine Tripoulas
  • Layla Elliott
    Layla Elliott
  • Rose Mattioli
    Rose Mattioli
  • Lara Budeit
    Lara Budeit
  • Connie DeRea Hoglund
    Connie DeRea Hoglund
Eric Kim was the Table for One columnist at Food52. He is currently working on his first cookbook, KOREAN AMERICAN, to be published by Clarkson Potter in 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at The New York Times, where he works now as a writer. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ericjoonho.

28 Reviews

[email protected] March 24, 2021
This was sooo good! My husband was like "who dreamt of this combination"?
Allie S. January 6, 2021
I loved this pasta! I thought it would've benefited from the tiniest bit of creaminess in the fat "binding" that now comes from just the pork and Parmesan. I ate this pasta for lunch four days in a row and was a very happy camper :)
Elaine T. November 9, 2020
so tasty! and easy! our new fall staple
edilello November 7, 2020
Excellent dish! Add some minced garlic to the kale before you add that in...can't wait to make this again!
Kathy D. October 12, 2020
Excellent. I added red onion to the squash and bacon. Good texture and flavor. I mixed all the sheet pan contents (rendered bacon fat included) into the cooked pasta and emulsified it with some reserved pasta water. As others suggest, the squeeze of lemon is key.
Layla E. September 25, 2020
This was so easy and delicious!! I added honey to the squash. Besides that, no changes. Definitely a new staple dish for me
Rose M. January 6, 2020
SO good. I subbed chickpea pasta for regular pasta, used the precut pancetta to make my life easier, and sautéed up some onions and garlic to mix in. I’m always looking for yummy ways to get my veggies in, and this was perfect. Thank you!
Lisa L. December 25, 2019
SO good! Love the roasted butternut, bacon, kale, pecorino combo. The flavors work perfectly together. Have to say, we upped the cheese quantity. What a homey, warm, inviting meal. Thanks!
Anna November 8, 2019
Could this be made without the meat for a vegetarian meal?
Beth November 8, 2019
Yes! We made something similar based on this for a vegetarian friend at lunch and it was delicious.
Darita October 27, 2019
Very tasty! I substituted bacon and removed it from the pan after about 12-13 minutes, which was perfect. I think leaving it the whole 30 min would burn it to a crisp. A squeeze of lemon once the pasta was plated was the perfect finishing touch!
Beth November 8, 2019
It doesn't burn because when you put the kale on, that kind of cools and insulates it (I was similarly worried).
Beth October 24, 2019
Oh. My. Goodness. This was so delicious. I was really skeptical that this dish would be interesting enough. It was outstanding. I used bacon and I added half a cup of pasta water, but aside from that I made the recipe to the letter. Definitely worth repeating, especially because it's extremely easy.
Lara B. October 15, 2019
I decided to do this with delicata squash instead (so much easier to cut). I used bacon instead as well as I have no idea where to get guanciale. This was so so so good. I added a little lemon zest and lemon juice at the end to add some acid and a little bit of the pasta water. I will definitely do this again!
Sarah W. November 6, 2019
I use a 4 oz. package of pre-diced pancetta that you can usually find near the bacon at the grocery store! So easy to use as all you need to do is open the pack and toss it with the squash.
Sarah W. September 19, 2019
BEST Fall pasta dish ever! Lots of good-for-you veggies with the comfort of a warm pasta dish. Highly recommend freshly grating the pecorino, makes a huge difference. My boyfriend and I have this recipe on repeat.
Debbie January 2, 2019
The blending of the caramelized butternut, meaty saltiness of the bacon and slightly crisp dark kale was superb. Plus, very easy to make. This is a keeper.
Eric K. January 3, 2019
Carla K. October 28, 2018
Eric, You totally speak to my soul! From the Sunday scarries to the sweater! Don't worry, most of us have a "sweater"- mine is a pair of socks I wear to bed (or couch on a cold night). Maybe it's an introvert thing. I'm making this (again) tonight, just wanted to say thanks for a great fall recipe!
Eric K. October 29, 2018
Totally an introvert thing. Thanks for the note, Carla.
tricia October 27, 2018
I favor the lacinato kale. It is greener, stronger and adds a 'tooth' to the dish. Spinach will get stringy and messy. Lacinato is also good in minestrone soups so don't fear buying a bunch and not using it.
Eric K. October 29, 2018
Kit B. October 26, 2018
This instantly became a new favorite meal. It is a autumn on a plate. What more could you ask for?
Eric K. October 29, 2018
Makes me happy.
Connie D. October 7, 2018
Can I use spinach instead of kale?
Shannon B. October 7, 2018
You definitely could. I'm also adding sauteed onions, yummm!
Eric K. October 7, 2018
Of course! I use kale b/c the heat of the oven crisps it up like potato chips, but spinach would work fine here. I'd just check it after 5 minutes, b/c it'll cook much faster than the kale.
Eric K. October 7, 2018
Shannon, some onion in here would definitely take it over the top! Delicious.