Move over, marinara! When autumn leaves start to change color and the scent of pumpkin spice fills the air, this creamy butternut squash pasta will fulfill your craving for fall pasta. Fresh butternut squash mingles with garlic, sage, and parmesan cheese to make a thick, savory sauce to coat any type of pasta. It’s creamy, satisfying, and makes for the perfect fall recipe.
What does butternut squash pasta taste like?
Butternut squash pasta tastes like fettucine alfredo meets butternut squash soup—it’s a cozy, creamy pasta, that isn’t actually loaded with a lot of cream. Butternut squash is simmered in chicken stock until tender, then pureed into a smooth sauce. Finishing with parmesan cheese and heavy cream gives the sauce a boost of flavor and creamy texture.
What flavors go well with butternut squash?
Garlic and parmesan give the butternut squash sauce a savory edge, while herbs like sage add depth and freshness. The finished pasta dish is topped with walnuts that are cooked in lightly browned butter, for crunch and flavor. If you like, top the pasta with cooked bacon, pancetta, or mix in up to 8 ounces of crumbled, cooked Italian sausage. Up to 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin spice, ground cinnamon, or ginger could be added to the sauce, to pump up the autumnal flavors.
Recipe by ERIN MERHAR
Photo by CAITLIN BENSEL
- ¼ c. salted butter
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 c. walnuts, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp. chopped sage, plus more for garnish
- 6 c. cubed butternut squash (about 30 oz. cubed)
- 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for pasta water
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 2 c. chicken broth
- ¼ c. heavy cream
- 1 lb. penne pasta
- ½ c. grated parmesan cheese, plus more serving
Look for bags of pre-cut butternut squash in the produce section, to save time on peeling and chopping. Otherwise, start with a whole butternut squash that weighs around 2 pounds.
- Place the butter in a medium pot (with a lid) over medium heat. Let melt, then add the olive oil and walnuts. Cook until the walnuts are lightly toasted and the butter is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the walnuts to a paper towel lined plate.
- Add the garlic and sage to the pot and cook briefly until golden and aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the squash, broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender.
- Transfer the squash mixture to a blender canister. Cover, then remove the top insert from the lid and cover with a kitchen towel (to let steam escape). Puree until very smooth, about 1 minute.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt. Add the pasta and reduce to medium heat (just simmering). Cook 1 minute less than the package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water then drain the pasta in a colander.
- Return the large pot to medium heat. Add the butternut squash sauce, heavy cream, cooked pasta and 1/4 cup of the pasta water and parmesan cheese. Stir gently with a rubber spatula, until the sauce has thickened slightly and is coating the pasta, about 2 minutes. (Add more pasta water to reach desired consistency). Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately topped with more chopped sage, parmesan cheese, and the reserved walnuts.