Swap out the cheese for a secret ingredient in this guilt-free rotini! Toss in pops of perfectly roasted broccoli for a side dish that is only 201 calories per serving!
If you’ve read my blog before you know that I’m obsessed with cheese. And if you haven’t then you’ve been here for 2 seconds and hi, I’m already talking about cheese. *shrug girl emoji*
So when it comes to swapping out cheese for another ingredient in a recipe it seems like cruel and unusual punishment. However, my love is not blind and I know how fattening and high in calories my beloved cheese is, and sometimes it is necessary for us to part ways.
In this secret ingredient roasted broccoli rotini, we swap out my long time love affair with an ingredient I’ve actually never even tasted: butternut squash. I’ve seen multiple recipes on Pinterest that use butternut squash as a “cheese sauce” in pastas and decided to finally give it a try! I figured if I can save myself some calories and keep pasta in my diet all while tricking my brain into thinking we are eating cheese then it’s worth a shot!
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SECRET INGREDIENT ROASTED BROCCOLI ROTINI
201 calories per serving
So let’s first talk about the fact that I had NO idea how to even cut a butternut squash. I’m not too proud to admit that. If you’re like me that’s okay…I wrote a post on how to cut a butternut squash so you can learn, too!
Also, let’s learn a little about how to choose and store our two main ingredients!
HOW DO I CHOOSE FRESH broccoli AND butternut squash?
How to choose Broccoli:
- The broccoli should be an even, dark green color with tight florets and firm stalks. The more compact the clusters of florets are, the fresher the broccoli is! The older it gets, the more it will start to spread out and the more the florets will begin to yellow. (Older, yellowed florets will work well in soups or stocks.)
- The cut ends of the stalk should look fresh and not dried out.
- Choose broccoli that looks heavy for its size.
How to choose Butternut Squash:
- Choose heavy, firm, well-shaped squashes with hard, tough skin.
- Avoid squash with sunken, moldy spots, cuts or punctures.
- The stem should be intact, firm and dry.
- The skin should be dull and matte, shiny skin means the squash was picked too early.
- Choose a squash that is rich and deep in color.
Cool, and HOW DO I STORE broccoli and butternut squash UNTIL I’M READY TO COOK?
How to store Broccoli:
- You can mist the heads of the broccoli, but do not wash it (too much moisture may cause molding.)
- You can wrap the broccoli in a damp paper towel, but you don’t want to store it in a plastic bag because broccoli needs proper air circulation.
- Store the broccoli in the refrigerator and eat within 3-5 days.
How to store Butternut Squash:
- Store in a dark, cool place for 2-3 months, such as in your basement.
- If you have to cut it, store sealed in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Tip: You can find more tips on seasonal produce selection and storage, plus tons of recipes from fellow food bloggers in my Monthly Seasonal Produce Guides!
thanks! NOW HOW TO DO I COOK THIS RECIPE?
Now that we’ve learned a little more about our ingredients, we can start our recipe! Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil. Cube 2 C of butternut squash (about 1/2 of a medium-sized squash) and place on half of the baking sheet. On the other half place 3 C of fresh broccoli florets
Drizzle with about 2 Tbsp olive oil and salt/pepper to taste (I used One & Done Seasoning since we always have that in the house thanks to my BBQ Brother husband). Roast for about 20 minutes or until tender.
In a large pot, prepare 12 oz of rotini according to the directions on the box. I used wheat to make it a little healthier!
While you’re making the rotini, on a separate burner, add a large skillet over medium-high heat. Melt 1/4 C of butter or margarine (I used margarine) then add in 2 cloves of minced garlic. Saute for about 1 minute then whisk in 3 Tbsp of flour. Slowly whisk in 1/2 C heavy whipping cream and 1 1/2 C of milk (I used skim) until smooth.Continue to heat over medium-high heat until boiling, stirring occasionally until thickened. Remove from heat then whisk in 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 C grated parmesan cheese until melted.
Once the squash is done roasting, place it in a blender and add the sauce on top. Blend on high until completely smooth. Pour back into the skillet then add in the rotini and roasted broccoli. Season with salt and pepper, top with 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley and enjoy! We served this as a small side dish to chicken and steak all week and it was a perfect meal! Andrew chose to add a little hot sauce in to kick it up a notch but I thought it was perfect as is. I definitely recommend pairing this with a protein, though, for a perfectly well-rounded dinner! 🙂
If you’re looking for a different type of low calorie pasta, check out this Spinach and Mushroom Fettuccine!Print
Swap out the cheese for a secret ingredient in this guilt-free pasta! Toss in pops of perfectly roasted broccoli for a side dish that is only 201 calories per serving!
- 2 C butternut squash cut into 1 inch cubes (about 1/2 of a medium-sized squash) *See notes
- 3 C fresh broccoli florets
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 12 oz of wheat rotini
- 1/4 C of butter or margarine (I used margarine)
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 1/2 C heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 C milk (I used skim)
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 C grated parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
- Cube 2 C of butternut squash and place on half of the baking sheet. On the other half place 3 C of broccoli florets. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp of olive oil and salt/pepper to taste. Roast for about 20 minutes or until tender.
- In a large pot, prepare 12 oz of wheat rotini according to the directions on the box.
- While you’re making the rotini, on a separate burner, add a large skillet over medium-high heat. Melt 1/4 C of butter or margarine and add in 2 cloves of minced garlic. Sauté for about 1 minute then whisk in 3 Tbsp of flour.
- Slowly whisk in 1/2 C heavy whipping cream and 1 1/2 C milk until smooth. Continue to heat over medium-high heat until boiling, stirring occasionally until thickened.
- Remove from heat then whisk in 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 C grated parmesan cheese until melted.
- Once the squash is done roasting, place it in a blender and add the sauce on top. Blend on high until completely smooth.
- Pour back into the skillet then add in the rotini and broccoli. Season with salt and pepper, top with fresh parsley and enjoy!
If you need to learn how to cut a butternut squash, click here! 🙂
See post notes for tips on how to choose and store the vegetables used in this recipe!
Keywords: rotini, healthy pasta, butternut squash uses, healthy comfort food, low calorie substitute
**Recipe adapted from Whole and Heavenly Oven
What do you think? Did this recipe make the cut for you or did it crumble? What would you do differently? Leave a comment below! 🙂