Healthy Baked Butternut Squash Penne

IT’S FINALLY FRIDAY! Who’s ready to celebrate?

I haven’t cooked in a little while, so when I had the opportunity last night, I took it. I’d seen Gina Homolka’s Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna Rolls in her Skinnytaste cookbook and immediately wanted to try making it. However, I adapted it by simply making it a baked penne dish.

If you want this to be a quick meal, you definitely need to do your chopping and peeling ahead of time. It takes some time to peel, seed and chop the squash. Other than that, it’s extremely simple and easy to make for your family or a dinner party. This is definitely a healthier pasta option, too. Whole grain pasta, protein from the spinach, low fat cheeses and a plethora of nutritional benefits that come from the squash. Get cooking so you can dig in!

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
Butter nut squash, peeled and chopped
Penne (I used whole grain)
Frozen, chopped spinach
Fat free ricotta cheese
Part skim shredded mozzarella cheese
Parsley (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Set two large pots of water to boil.
3. Meanwhile, saute shallots and garlic in a small saute pan.
4. When water is boiling, add penne to one pot and butternut squash to the other.
5. While pasta and squash are boiling, tend to the shallots and garlic and turn off heat when shallots are translucent. Microwave spinach according to directions.
6. Boil squash for about 12 minutes. When finished, ladle squash into a blender (make sure you have enough water with it) and puree.
7. Add shallots and garlic to the sauce and either puree together or simply stir. Add salt, pepper, and any other spices you prefer.
8. In a large casserole dish (greased with canola spray or olive oil), add pasta and spread evenly.
9. Cut open spinach and distribute evenly across pasta.
10. Spoon ricotta on top and spread evenly. Ladle butternut squash sauce atop ricotta.
11. Drizzle (or completely cover like I did) with mozzarella cheese. Place in oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes. When cheese is melted, set to HI broil for about 3-5 minutes.
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