This pasta casserole is a hearty yet elegant combination of whole wheat penne, rich butternut squash, toasted walnuts, ricotta and Parmesan cheese.
- 2 spray(s) cooking spray
- 20 oz uncooked butternut squash, fresh, peeled and cubed*
- 1/8 tsp table salt, for cooking pasta
- 12 oz uncooked whole wheat pasta, penne
- 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
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, fresh, chopped, divided
- 1/2 cup(s) part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup(s) grated Parmesan cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended
- 1/4 Tbsp chopped walnuts, toasted
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; 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.
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 and 2 1/2 teaspoons of thyme. 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 walnuts. Bake until top is lightly browned in a few spots, about 15 to 20 minutes; remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of thyme. Yields about 1 cup per serving.
- *Look for a 20 ounce bag of fresh, already peeled and cubed squash from your supermarket. If you can't find any, cut a medium squash in half lengthwise and place cut-side down on prepared baking sheet; roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Scoop squash out of skin into a large bowl, mash with a spoon and proceed as above.Alternatively, you can microwave cubed squash, covered, in a shallow microwave-safe baking dish or container with 1/4 cup of water, until cooked through; mash squash in a bowl.