Butternut Squash Casserole

I'm scared.

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Scared of the word casserole. I know, I'm weird... But the word casserole makes me think of some gross mystery dish that your friend's grandma serves you that may or may not be like two weeks old. I'm trying to trick myself into being "okay" with this word by putting the words butternut squash in front of it. It's kinda working... I admitted my problem. That's the first step.

Okay, I have another problem. I don't like red sauce. I know what you’re thinking… She is really, really weird. I just don’t. I love tomatoes and tomato soup but I don’t like tomato sauce. Needless to say, anytime I find a pasta recipe without red sauce I’m like HALLELUJAH. And when I find one with butternut squash I’m like DOUBLE HALLELUJAH.

Butternut squash makes the most perfect pasta sauce because of its rich flavor and creamy texture. I’m totally obsessed with butternut squash. I could seriously eat it every night for dinner. Tom used to think he didn’t like it but I saved him from the dark side. Go me.

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Butternut Squash Casserole

Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is

Makes 12 squares. 185 calories a square.

Ingredients:

- 3 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta shells

- 4 cups cubed uncooked butternut squash (1/2 inch cubes)

- 2 tbsp olive oil

- 1/2 tsp salt

- 1/2 tsp pepper

- 1/2 tsp garlic powder

- 1/4 tsp nutmeg

- 3/4 cup chicken broth (low-sodium)

- 1 1/2 cups almond milk

- 7 oz fat free shredded mozzarella cheese

- 2 oz grated parmesan cheese

- 2 tbsp unsalted brown butter (how to brown butter)

- 2 tbsp Italian breadcrumbs

- herbs de provence

- cooking spray

Directions:

1. preheat oven to 375 F

2. cook pasta according to its directions

3. heat a dutch oven over medium-high heat then add oil, squash, salt, pepper, nutmeg, garlic powder and chicken stock

4. cover the dutch oven and cook squash 15-20 minutes or until tender (stir occasionally)

5. remove cover, reduce heat to low and emulsify the squash using a hand blender (you can also mash up the squash using a potato masher or even forks)

6. add almond milk, 5 oz of mozzarella and all of the parmesan cheese to the squash and mix until cheese melts (couple minutes) - if the mixture seems too thick add a little extra milk about 1/4 cup at a time

7. stir in brown butter until well combined and then season to taste

8. pour shells into squash mixture and toss until the shells are totally coated

9. coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and scoop shell/squash mixture into dish

10. top with remaining mozzarella, breadcrumbs, and herbs de provence then bake for about 15-17 minutes 

11. Serve!

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Cue the drooling.

- A