It really is amazing how creamy and rich a vegetable can taste without the help of any dairy products. I remember experiencing this phenomenon for the first time after tasting a heated box of frozen squash puree. There was nothing in there but pureed squash yet it tasted like it was soaked in butter. Amazing.
That’s what makes butternut squash so perfect for substituting in rich, fatty cheese sauces. For this pasta, I roasted some fresh butternut squash then pureed it with chicken stock and onions to make a “creamy” sauce. I wanted a little tangy kick so I did end up adding a little blue cheese (reduced fat, in my case) into to the mix. The result was PERFECT. I happily ate my pasta yesterday and again today for lunch just as if it had been a big, gooey bowl of Mac n’ Cheese.
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of peeling, dicing and roasting a fresh squash, you can buy a box of the frozen puree. The frozen stuff tastes decent, is usually fairly inexpensive and will cut the prep time for this recipe in half – at least.
Butternut Squash Pasta with Blue Cheese
Butternut Squash Pasta with Blue Cheese
This butternut squash pasta uses a creamy and rich butternut squash sauce in place of cheese for a healthy, yet flavorful swap.
- 1 medium butternut squash (2 lb) $2.35
- 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided $0.30
- salt and pepper to taste $0.05
- 1 tsp dried sage $0.10
- 1 small yellow onion $0.34
- 1.5 tsp chicken base bouillon $0.15
- 2 cups water $0.00
- 12 oz whole wheat pasta $1.18
- 3 cups baby spinach $0.99
- 3 oz crumbled blue cheese $2.09
- If you are using fresh butternut squash, peel, scoop out the seeds and cut into one inch cubes (photos below). Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil. Spread the squash cubes out on the baking sheet, sprinkle with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, salt, pepper and sage. Toss to coat then roast in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the squash is soft and golden along the edges (stir once half way through).
- Dice the onion and cook it until soft with 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a medium sauce pan. Once the onion is soft, add the water, bouillon and roasted squash cubes. Cook for about 5 minutes more or until it is all heated through and the squash is mushy. (if using frozen squash puree, add it here instead of the roasted cubes)
- Transfer the squash, bouillon and onions to a blender and puree (be very careful when using a blender with hot liquid. Tightly secure the lid!) Pour the pureed squash sauce back into the sauce pan and keep warm over low heat.
- Boil the pasta according to package directions (boil for 5-10 minutes or until al dente). Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the squash sauce and spinach. Stir it all together until evenly mixed and the spinach has wilted. Add the blue cheese crumbles and stir once more. Serve hot!
Step By Step Photos
To facilitate cutting the butternut squash, first cut off the top and bottom. This will give you a flat, stable edge to work with.
Peel the squash using a regular vegetable peeler.
With the squash on it’s flat end, slice it down the center. Use a spoon to scoop out the fleshy seed area.
Dice the squash and toss it with olive oil, salt, pepper and sage. Place it on a lined baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes.
After it is finished roasting, it will be soft and the edges will be slightly caramelized which gives it FANTASTIC flavor. Try not to eat all of these cubes before finishing the dish (I ate about 1/4 of them!!). These roasted squash cubes are great as a side dish by themselves or as an addition to salads.
To start the sauce, dice an onion and cook it down in olive oil over medium heat until softened.
Once the onions are soft, add the bouillon, water and squash. Cook it a few minutes more until everything is hot and the squash is mushy. This is where you would add the frozen squash puree, if using it instead of fresh.
Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth like baby food. Give it a taste to see if you want more salt, pepper or sage.
Boil the pasta, if you haven’t already begun to do so. This recipe would be much more visually appealing with regular, non-whole grain pasta but… hey… it’s all in the name of heart health!
Drain the pasta after cooking it and return it to the pot (with the heat off). Stir in the warm squash sauce and fresh spinach. Stir it up until it’s all mixed and the spinach is wilted. Next stir in the blue cheese crumbles (my pic is slightly out of order… I did the cheese first but I would recommend the spinach first if you want to retain actual blue cheese pieces rather than having it melt in).
Sorry about the boring, bad quality pics folks… it was dark in my apartment and I started coming down with a cold so I didn’t have the energy to make it look pretty! BUT IT TASTES INCREDIBLE – PROMISE!