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.