Sunday, October 20, 2013

Baked Pasta with Spinach, Turkey, & Squash Sauce

Kids really do say the darndest things. My coworker told me a cute story about her five-year-old last week. Something cool happened and her little girl exclaimed, “That's awesome sauce Mom!” 

And so I share with you today some truly awesome sauce. It's awesome squash sauce. Making sauce out of squash may sound strange, but it's quite popular these days. It's an inspired way to achieve a blissfully creamy and comforting sauce without a ton of cheese and cream. Oh, and it tastes like autumn!

The only downside to this dish is you may need to peel a butternut squash. I've seen it sliced and prepackaged but no such luck in my neck of the woods. Anyways, I tackled that sucker and am all the better for it now that I have squash sauce in my life. 

Let me tell you more about this heavy but healthy pasta dish! It's chock full of whole wheat pasta, smothered in smooth spicy/sweet squash sauce, dotted with lean turkey and wilted spinach, and topped with a thin blanket of cheese. You're going to want to stick your face right in this squash sauce. 

Baked Pasta with Spinach, Turkey, & Squash Sauce
Adapted from Pinch of Yum

Servings: 10
Calories: 293
Fat: 7 g
Carbs: 42 g
Protein: 20 g
Fiber: 5 g 

  • 2 small yellow onions
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed, about 4-5 cups
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (or 4 cups water with 4 tsp chicken bouillon dissolved)
  • salt + pepper + italian seasoning (or mix of basil & oregano)
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp half and half
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1-1.3  lb. ground turkey (93% lean)
  • 3 cups packed fresh spinach
  • 1 cup cheese, grated (provolone, cheddar jack, mozzarella—whatever you like!) 
  • 1 lb. whole wheat rigatoni or penne

There are a few steps here, but it all comes together fairly quickly if you multitask a bit! Get a head start by boiling your water for the pasta while you take care of the other suff. 

Start by Mincing the onions and garlic. Set aside. Bring the vegetable broth to a boil and add half of the onion/garlic mixture and the prepared squash. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until squash/onion/garlic are fork-tender. Drain most of the liquid, reserving ½ cup. Transfer the cooked squash combined with ½ cup of the vegetable broth from the pot to a blender and puree until smooth, adding salt, pepper, and dried oregano to taste. Stir in cream and milk and set aside. Taste that squash sauce heaven!

Meanwhile, brown the turkey over medium high heat with the remaining onion/garlic mixture. Season generously with salt, pepper, and oregano. Drain out any excess liquid so that the meat will get a browned, charred look.

Cook the pasta in a large pot, undercooking to prevent mushiness since you'll be baking it. (about 6 minutes) Drain, then add the sauce, sausage, and spinach to the pot with the noodles. Stir until combined and tansfer to a large baking dish stopping half way to add a layer of cheese (about ½ cup) Pour remaining pasta mixture in and sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of cheese on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until the top is beginning to brown and everything is heated through.


  1. This looks yummy and so fun for fall! Wonder if I could get your father to eat pasta without red sauce!

    1. Thanks! I bet you would like this sauce Momma. Not very much cream, like you like! I think Daddy would like it based on his love affair with squash.