Baked Butternut Squash and Sage Penne

Butternut squash is filled with an array of amazing nutrients including beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium, fiber, magnesium, omega-3, and B vitamins.  The most abundant and noteworthy of these nutrients is beta-carotene, which is responsible for the bright orange flesh of this winter squash and  is automatically converted to vitamin A by our body.  Beta-carotene has very powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, working hard to protect our heart and fight off cancerous cells.

Makes 8 servings

1 butternut squash

5 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, divided in half

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided in half

1 pound whole grain penne, dry

1 red onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups fresh spinach

3/4 -1 cup milk (unsweetened almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, or low fat cow’s milk)

2 tablespoons chopped sage

2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Wash the butternut squash and cut in half.  Scoop out the seeds and cut into wedges about 2 inches thick; leave the skin on.  Place butternut squash wedges in a pan or baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with 1/4 teaspoon each;  sea salt and pepper.  Roast for 30, until the squash is golden and cooked through.

While the squash is roasting bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add penne and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.  Drain pasta and set aside.

In the same pot, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat.  Sauté onion and garlic for 4-6 minutes, until slightly softened.  Add in spinach and sauté for an additional 4-6 minutes, until spinach is wilted.  Set spinach mixture aside.

Once the squash is cooked and taken out of the oven, allow to cool for about 5 minutes.  Once cooled, scoop out the flesh and place in a large bowl.  Add milk into the bowl and mash until you get a slightly chunky consistency.  (Note you may need to alter the amount of milk depending on the size of squash) Mix in the spinach mixture, sage, 1 cup Parmesan cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon each: sea salt and pepper.

Add cooked penne to the bowl and mix well until every penne is coated completely with the squash mixture.  Pour into a 13 x 9 baking dish and top with 1 cup Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden brown.

Nutritional facts per serving: 356 calories, 10 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 534 mg sodium, 50 g total carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 19 g protein

BALANCE IT OUT:  Pair baked butternut squash and sage penne with a large salad and you have a hearty and savory balanced meal.  Cut the serving size in half and you have a tasty autumn side dish that feeds much more.



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