Winter weather and freezing temps practically scream for a warm and cozy baked pasta dinner. Truth be told, baked pasta dishes are not something I make on a regular basis because more often than not, they involve a lot of cheese, cream or butter. Never fear, by making a few tweaks I was able to create a well rounded, nutrient-packed baked pasta that is sure to leave your tummy happy and full. Here are my tricks to creating your own healthy twist on a baked pasta dish:
1) Swap white pasta for whole wheat pasta. By making this simple swap, you are trading processed, bleached flour for whole wheat pasta which contains fiber and protein – your “feel fuller longer” magical combo.
2) Pack in the veggies! Kale is one of my favorite super foods – not only because it is loaded in antioxidants but because it is sturdy and holds up to cooking.
3) Butternut squash adds a creamy texture without the fat and calories of butter, cheese or whole milk. By incorporating this tender squash, you can use less butter and cheese.
4) Use good quality parmigiano reggiano. Give the stuff in the green bottle the night off and use the real deal. The real cheese is sharp and powerful which allows you to use less helping keep your calories and sodium in check.
Your fork is waiting.
- 8 oz whole wheat penne pasta
- 2 c onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic grated
- 4 Italian turkey sausage links
- 4 c butternut squash peeled and diced
- 6 c kale
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 c fat free milk
- 2 tsp butter unsalted
- 1/2 c grated parmigiano reggiano
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook whole wheat pasta according to package instructions and set aside.
In a deep sauce pan, saute diced onions over medium-high heat using non-stick cooking spray until tender.
Add garlic and saute 30 seconds.
Remove sausage from casings and saute with onions and garlic using wooden spoon to break up the sausage. Continue cooking sausage until it is lightly brown.
Add 1 c of water to pan and deglaze with wooden spoon before adding in butternut squash. Cook for 5 minutes or until butternut squash is mostly tender.
Add kale and cook another 3-4 minutes until it starts to wilt.
Add in cooked pasta, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, milk and butter. Stir to combine and cook for another 2 minutes.
Pour everything into a deep baking dish and sprinkle cheese evenly on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly.
Excellent source of Vitamins A and C, good source of Iron and Calcium.