Meatless Monday: Butternut Squash Pasta Bake

Meatless Monday: Butternut Squash Pasta Bake

By Gail Watson, contributing blogger

The nutty earthy taste of the butternut squash is a taste you will fall in love with in this pasta bake. We used a classic Bechamel sauce for the base, but made it lighter, but no less delicious with skim milk. A layer of toasty Parmesan cheese on top gives it that cheesy finish without weighing you down.

Butternut Squash Pasta Bake
Serves 6

Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

3½  teaspoons salt, divided
12 ounces whole wheat penne rigate
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes, about 3 cups
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups skim milk
½ medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 ounces of Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 350˚ and grease a 2 quart baking dish.

In a large pot, bring 8 to 10 cups of water to a boil and add 2 teaspoons of salt and pasta. Cook until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a medium-large saucepan, place the squash and add water to cover by one inch. Bring to boil and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Reserve one cup of cooking water and drain. Put squash and 1 teaspoon of salt into a food processor and puree smooth. Add some of the cooking water in small increments if necessary to create a smooth consistency. Set aside.

In a medium-large saucepan, warm the oil over medium heat and add the flour. Cook the paste while stirring for 2 minutes, taking care not to scorch. Add one cup of the milk and quickly stir into a thick paste, then add the rest of the milk and stir smooth. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf, pepper and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Add the squash puree and stir smooth. Add the penne and gently toss to combine. Turn the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top, then bake until browned and bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories: 257; Total Fat: 10 grams; Saturated Fat: 2 grams; Carbohydrates: 60 grams; Protein: 10 grams; Sugar: 1 gram; Fiber: 2 grams; Sodium: 377 milligrams

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