Wish Upon A Dish: Healthy Baked Ziti with Squash & Sausage ♥ Good enough for my Dad

December 8, 2014

Healthy Baked Ziti with Squash & Sausage ♥ Good enough for my Dad

My SIL sent me (by way of my other SIL) a beauty of a butternut squash. Instead of my carrot tart contribution to the T-day table, I thought I would use her squash (sort of like drinking the wine a guest brings, only better).

After filling a 10" tart shell I still had quite a bit of roasted flesh and when I saw this recipe at the Nestle's Very Best Baking site, I pulled out all the ingredients (this is one reason to have a really great stocked pantry) and made this for dinner. I also made enough to bring a baked version down to my Dad's. We need to pump him up so he gains weight and this looked very pumpy.

While I am not a fan of fat-free dairy, he is allowed to eat 2% dairy so I used reduced fat ingredients and whole wheat pasta for much needed fiber.

The original recipe called for canned pumpkin (which I could have used) and while pumpkin has good nutritional value, I know that butternut squash is slightly ahead in Vitamin C and potassium.

Baked Ziti with Squash & Sausage
makes 12 servings
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 cups (12 oz.) dry regular or whole-wheat ziti
  • 15 oz. squash, roasted and mashed
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 can (12 fl. oz.) Evaporated Fat Free milk
  • 12 oz. (4 links) Italian-seasoned chicken or pork sausage, casings removed
  • 1 pkg. (6 oz.) or about 4 cups pre-washed baby spinach or chopped Swiss chard
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded part-skim or 2% milk reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup (1.5 oz.) grated Parmesan cheese


PREHEAT oven to 425º F. Spray 4-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

PREPARE pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water and set aside for later use. Drain pasta; return to cooking pot.

MEANWHILE, COMBINE sausage meat, squash, garlic powder, salt, nutmeg and cayenne pepper in medium skillet over medium heat. Slowly stir in flour and add evaporated milk, stirring until smooth. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken slightly. Pour over pasta in pot. Add reserved pasta cooking water; stir well.

SPREAD half of the pasta mixture into prepared baking dish. Top with spinach. Cover with remaining pasta mixture. Lightly spray piece of foil with nonstick cooking spray. Cover ziti with foil, greased side down.

BAKE for 20 minutes or until heated through. Combine mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses in small bowl. Remove foil; sprinkle with cheese mixture. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
My dad is going to love this and once cooled, I sliced the casserole into 4x4-inch squares, wrapped each in plastic wrap & foil and placed them all in a large gallon bag (labeled of course).
TO EAT: All one needs to do is to defrost and heat in the oven for 10-15 minutes, nuke for 4 minutes or if still frozen, place wrapped squares on a cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350°.
I will include the reheating directions (also wrapped in plastic wrap) inside the freezer bag.

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