Thursday, January 06, 2011

Butternut Squash Pasta Bake

The rain has returned to Vancouver. I can't complain too much because we've been having some stunning days lately.

As much as I wanted to park my butt on the couch Fletcher would have none of it. So Chris and I bundled up in our waterproof gear and headed over to the trails. It was pitch dark but I had the new headlamp Chris gave me for Christmas. I am sure I was looking pretty good sporting a headlamp over my crochet hat but we didn't see a soul.

I came back wanting to make a baked pasta and use the butternut squash and ricotta that I had on hand. I'd tried a Weight Watchers recipe before but it turned out just a little bland and dry. Since I am trying to eat a little healthier after all the holiday indulgences I wanted to kick up the recipe without doing the obvious (as in add more cheese)

While the butternut squash was roasting I took a glance over at Chelsey's blog and spotted her sauteed spinach and tomatoes. Just what my pasta bake needed and the perfect way to use the spinach I forgot. Along with a pinch of nutmeg in the white sauce and this pasta bake went from bland to mouth watering

Healthy comfort food after a long walk on a drizzly winter night is the perfect way to snuggle up on the couch and catch up on a little Thursday night pvr.

Butternut Squash Pasta Bake (adapted from Weight Watchers)

Makes 4 - 6 servings

20 oz butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1/8 tsp table salt, for cooking pasta
12 oz uncooked whole-wheat pasta, rotini
1 1/4 cup(s) fat-free skim milk
2 Tbsp white all-purpose flour
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground, or to taste
pinch of nutmeg
4 cups baby spinach
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup(s) part-skim ricotta cheese
1/3 cup(s) grated Parmesan cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended
1/4 cup bread crumbs


* Preheat oven to 375ºF. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Coat a 2 1/2- to 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

* Place squash on prepared baking sheet cut side down; roast until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Place in a large bowl and mash.

* Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. After squash has been roasting for about 10 minutes, cook pasta according to package directions; drain and return to pot.

* Heat a skillet over medium heat and add spinach cooking until wilted. When nearly done add the cherry tomatoes

* In a medium saucepan, whisk together milk, flour, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking frequently; reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in mashed squash, spinach and tomatoes. Add sauce to pasta; toss to mix and coat.

* Transfer pasta mixture to prepared baking dish; dot with spoonfuls of ricotta and then sprinkle with Parmesan and bread crumbs. Bake until top is lightly browned in a few spots, about 15 to 20 minutes; remove from oven.

Beware the leftovers with this one. Pack them up straight away because it's far too easy to start eating them straight from the pan.

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