Cheesy and delicious butternut squash pasta that is also protein-packed! How do we do it? Barilla® ProteinPLUS® is a multigrain pasta is made with wholesome, high protein ingredients. No meat required!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Barilla. The opinions and text are all mine.
Who doesn’t love pasta? Somehow kids all seem to gravitate toward it from a very early age. It can be hard to get them to eat much else sometimes (and I don’t blame them!).
So how do you fit protein in? If you’re like me, you don’t always want to have to prepare meat – and some kids just don’t like it. But we’ve found a nutritious pasta that helps solve this problem!
So how do you make high protein pasta without meat?
Now there’s pasta made of many of the high protein ingredients we love: chickpeas, lentils, egg whites, flaxseed, barley, and oats. Barilla® ProteinPLUS® pasta has 10 grams of protein in a single serving – derived solely from those natural ingredients. It’s also bundled with lots of fiber and ala omega 3 for brain health.
And it still tastes great, just like regular pasta! If I didn’t know it was a special pasta, I wouldn’t have guessed it. It has the perfect al dente texture and holds together really well even when it’s being stirred and tossed (I always hate it when noodles fall apart!).
I will definitely be returning to ProteinPLUS® pasta again and again to boost the nutrition and protein of my meals!
The easiest way to cut butternut squash
Let’s get the hardest part over first: cutting your butternut squash. You’ll need about 4 cups worth of small butternut cubes, so you don’t need a huge squash. You can also buy it pre-cubed if you’re in a pinch or just don’t want to deal with the cutting.
Here’s how I like to cut my squash (but feel free to do it however you like).
- Pierce squash with a fork every few inches. Microwave it for 2 minutes to soften it for easier peeling and cutting.
- Place the squash on a cutting board and carefully cut off the top and bottom (stem and end).
- Peel the skin off of the squash. Peel it until the green lines are off too — this layer is tough and will not soften well.
- Once peeled, slice the squash into thin slices until you reach the wide part, then cut it in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds.
- Cut the slices into small cubes. In this case I recommend around 1/2 inch cubes for quicker cooking.
How to make protein packed butternut squash pasta
Once the squash is cut, also cut half an onion into large chunks. Mince three cloves of garlic. Chop 1 tablespoon worth of fresh sage.
Heat a skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss in 4 cups of 1/2 inch butternut squash cubes (uncooked). Salt and pepper generously and stir occasionally.
Meanwhile, get a large pot of water boiling and add a little salt. Once at a boil, add one package (14.5 ounces) of Barilla® ProteinPLUS® penne pasta. Boil for 11 minutes and then drain. Put the pasta back into the pot and set aside until needed.
After about the butternut squash softens slightly (maybe 5 minutes), add the chopped onion. Saute for another 15 minutes or so, until the squash is completely softened.
Now add minced garlic and fresh chopped sage to the squash and onions and saute for another minute or two. Remove from the heat.
Add the squash mixture, 1 cup of milk, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a blender. Blend until smooth. Now add 2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese (I used white, but you can use whatever you like). Blend well.
Pour the cheesy butternut mixture over the drained noodles and stir to combine. Serve hot, with extra cheese on top, if desired.
We hope you love this veggie- and protein-filled pasta as much as we do!
Protein Packed Butternut Squash Pasta
- Peel and carefully cut butternut squash into 1/2 inch cubes. (Tip: pierce squash with a fork and then microwave for 2 minutes before peeling and cutting for a slightly softer squash).
- Chop 1/2 onion into large chunks. Mince 3 cloves of garlic. Chop 1 tablespoon-worth of fresh sage into small strips.
- In a skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 4 cups of cubed squash. Salt and pepper generously. Saute for about 5 minutes, until slightly softened.
- Meanwhile, boil a large pot of salted water and add one 14.5 ounce package of Barilla® ProteinPLUS® penne pasta. Boil for 11 minutes, then drain and pour back into the pot. Set aside.
- Once the squash has cooked for 5 minutes or so, add the onion. Saute for 15 minutes more, until the butternut squash is softened.
- Add garlic and sage to the squash and onion mixture. Saute for another minute or two, then remove from the heat.
- Add the squash mixture, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1 cup of milk to a blender. Blend until smooth. Add 2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese and blend again.
- Pour the cheesy squash mixture over the Barilla® ProteinPLUS® pasta and stir until well coated. Serve warm.
I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.Learn More about Natalie