Quick and easy Butternut Squash Pasta is rich and creamy without any butter or cream!
Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta is luxuriously silky, healthy and absolutely addicting! It is made with butternut squash, garlic, herbs, fresh Parmesan and topped with crispy bacon and toasted pine nuts. It is perfect in its simplicity or completely customizable with chicken, shrimp or veggies!
Butternut Squash Pasta Recipe
To continue the celebration of the advent of Fall, I bring you creamilicious (yet cream-less), comforting Butternut Squash Pasta!
I love the silkiness and sweet yet nutty flavor that pureed butternut squash adds to any recipe whether its soup, risotto, or pasta sauce. The sauce is naturally gluten free and just oh so rich and comforting while still being healthy!
This Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce can be paired with your favorite pasta (thin spaghetti is my favorite) and even ravioli – you just won’t use all the sauce. Add shrimp, chicken, your favorite veggies or just slurp your butternut squash pasta in all its silky glory – either way you have a healthy Fall meal that can be on the table in less than 30 minutes!
Is Butternut Squash Pasta Healthy?
Yes! This creamy Butternut Squash Pasta recipe not only is low in calories, but it is packed with nutrients, thanks to butternut squash!
Would you believe me if I told you that butternut squash is a fruit? Most people use it as a vegetable, so that’s where the misconception comes from, but it is actually a fruit!
Whatever food group it falls under, the taste and health benefits of butternut squash are undeniable. It packs in nutrients like fiber, potassium, vitamins A & C as well as magnesium.
Butternut squash is a winter squash belonging to the family known as Cucurbitaceae. Its species name is Cucurbita maxima or C. moschata. Both pumpkins and squash belong to the same Cucurbitaceae family. You won’t be surprised when you cut open your squash and see the similarities between these fruits. Yes, that means pumpkin is a Fall fruit too! Who knew you were making tantalizing pasta sauce – with fruit?!
Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
- Butternut Squash: the only real prep work for this Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce is peeling and chopping the squash. If you aren’t comfortable chopping your squash, I’ve detailed how to do it below or you can use pre-chopped butternut squash. Packages of pre-cut squash come with larger pieces so just make sure you chop them into smaller, uniform pieces.
- Aromatics: Because this butternut squash pasta sauce is so creamy, we need to infuse it with plenty of aromatics and seasonings so its not just bland creaminess but seasoned creaminess. The flavor starts with sauteed onions and minced garlic. You can use powders if you prefer, about 1 teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder.
- Seasonings: in addition to onion and garlic, this Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce gets seasoned with chicken bouillon, red pepper flakes, dried basil, dried parsley, dried thyme, ground cumin, salt and pepper. You can add more or less of any of the seasonings to suite your tastes.
- Garnish: I like to top my Butternut Squash Pasta with crispy, salty bacon, nutty toasted pine nuts and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Crispy sage and fresh basil would also be delicious!
- Pasta: you can serve this Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce on any pasta OR try it on:
- zucchini noodles
- spaghetti squash
- cauliflower rice
- whole-wheat noodles
HOW DO I CHOOSE A GOOD BUTTERNUT SQUASH?
There are a few things to look for when choosing a healthy, ripe butternut squash for this Butternut Squash Pasta recipe:
- Look for a squash that feels heavier than its size.
- Find a squash with skin that has a matte finish. If the skin looks shiny, it was picked early and is not ripe.
- Touch the stem. It should look and feel dry where it was separated from the vine.
- Check for blemishes like cuts or dark spots. You don’t want any of those on your squash.
HOW DO YOU CUT BUTTERNUT SQUASH?
Butternut squash comes in a fun shape and size with a tough outer skin, which can make it intimidating to cut up. In order to make Butternut Squash Pasta, however, you need chopped butternut squash! Here are my tips for cutting your butternut squash:
- Remove the stem: You can do this simply by tapping it on your counter or cutting board, and it will pop right off!
- Wash your squash
- Peel it: Not all skins are created equal! Butternut squash skin can be quite difficult to peel. You need a sharp peeler. If you don’t have a sharp peeler in your kitchen, you can microwave the squash for about 2-3 minutes to aid in the peeling process. Don’t microwave it any longer though or it could explode!
- Use a fork to poke several holes in the squash, like you would a potato.
- Lay the squash on its side in the microwave.
- Cook for 2 minutes.
- Let cool for about 2 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
- Cut a small slice off the bottom of your squash to give a flat, sturdy end.
- Place your squash on the cutting board on the flat end.
- Peel straight down from the top, neck, of the squash. This squash will first reveal white and then green layers as you peel. Peel away all color layers until only orange flesh remains.
- Place the peeled squash on its side on your cutting board and cut it into 2 pieces right where the neck meets the bulb.
- Place the flat surface of the neck on the cutting board and cut straight down until you have two halves.
- Place the flat end of the bulb on your cutting board and cut straight down until you have two halves. You should now have four pieces total.
To remove seeds:
- To scoop with a spoon, use a spoon with a serrated edge- like a grapefruit spoon and scoop out the seeds and the fibrous strings.
- To remove seeds with a knife, lie your bulb half flat side down on the cutting board. Make approximately one-inch slices across the width of the squash like you would a tomato or a cantaloupe. Then use a knife to cut out the seeds from each individual slice, like you would do with a paring knife to remove the skin of an apple.
To finish chopping:
- Lay your neck halves flat side down on your cutting board and slice length wise.
- Lastly, cube all your slices and you’re done!
How to Make Butternut Squash Pasta
First, sauté chopped onions for a few minutes then add the squash and saute an additional 4 minutes or so, then add your garlic, red pepper flakes, chicken bouillon, ground cumin, basil, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper. Now we are talking.
Add some water and simmer until the squash becomes fork tender, about about 8-12 minutes. Add your simmered seasoned squash to your blender (or use on immersion blender) and blend until smooth.
Stir in some freshly grated Parmesan until nice and smooth and garnish with bacon, toasted pine nuts and more Parmesan cheese. Thank you Fall.
TIPS FOR CREAMY BUTTERNUT SQUASH PASTA SAUCE
- Fork Tender: take care to simmer you butternut squash until it is fork tender – it is better for it to be overcooked than under cooked to achieve the creamiest pasta sauce.
- Use your Blender!: you have the option of using an immersion blender or your blender to blend the butternuts quash once it is fork tender, but I HIGHLY prefer my blender. It purees the squash to a luscious creamy texture superior to an immersion blender.
- Let steam escape: whenever you puree something hot in your blender, like this butternut squash pasta sauce, you need to let the steam escape somewhere or else it will build up in your blender and then explode. I lift the corner of my lid and cover it with a paper towel.
- Scrape down sides. After you’e blended your butternut squash sauce, stop and scrape down the sides, then blend some more to make sure your sauce is completely smooth and there aren’t any stragglers.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH PASTA VARIATIONS
This Butternut Squash Pasta is perfect in its silky simplicity or feel free to customize it with protein and veggies! Here are a few ideas:
- Poultry: You can add chopped chicken sauteed in some butter, salt and pepper or shredded rotisserie chicken, or ground turkey for a protein-packed pasta that is even more filling.
- Seafood: Add some shrimp sauteed in butter and garlic or buttery lobster or salmon.
- Other Proteins: this Butternut Squash Pasta would also be delicious with spicy Italian sausage, lean ground beef, or sliced turkey sausage. Crispy, salty bacon also pairs beautifully with butternut squash – and because bacon is always a good idea.
- Vegetables: You can add any veggies your heart desires! Simply saute them in some olive oil while your sauce is in the blender. Mushrooms, peas, cauliflower, zucchini, asparagus, spinach, would all be delicious.
- Pasta: You can serve this Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce with any pasta or NON pasta! Try zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, rice, cauliflower rice or play around with different types of pasta shapes: cellentani, ravioli, orecchiette, penne, rigatoni, etc.
CAN I PREPARE ANYTHING AHEAD OF TIME?
Yes, you can! To save time when making your Butternut Squash Pasta, peel and cube your squash in advance and store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for for up to 3 days.
You can also chop your onions and mince your garlic and store them in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator.
CAN I REFRIGERATE MY BUTTERNUT SQUASH SAUCE?
Absolutely! To refrigerate your Butternut Squash Sauce – if you’re lucky enough to have ANY leftover – allow to come to room temperature, then pour and seal in an airtight container. Consume within three days.
CAN I FREEZE MY SAUCE?
Yes, you can freeze your Butternut Squash Sauce but not the pasta. If you know you are going to freeze the sauce, do NOT add the pasta, as the pasta will become mushy when frozen.
To freeze, allow sauce to come to room temperature then seal, label and store in an airtight container for 4-5 months. Be sure to leave room at the top of your container for expansion in the freezer.
HOW DO I REHEAT MY SAUCE?
From the refrigerator:
- Pour the sauce into a saucepan and heat on the stove at medium-low until your sauce is heated through.
- Add water to thin according to desired consistency.
From the freezer:
- Run hot water over your sauce container, rotating the container, to break up chunks of frozen sauce.
- Place sauce in a saucepan on a medium-low burner until sauce is heated through.
- Add water to thin according to desired consistency.
LOOKING FOR MORE BUTTERNUT SQUASH RECIPES?
- Butternut Squash Risotto
- Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberries, Caramelized Pecans and Goat Cheese
- Asian Roasted Butternut Squash with Cashews
- Slow Cooker Thai Butternut Squash Soup
- Slow Cooker Thai Chicken, Wild Rice, Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
- Roasted Maple Dijon Brussels Spouts and Butternut Squash
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Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta
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- 1 pound thin spaghetti, fettuccine or your favorite pasta (gluten free if needed)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 1/2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1/2 tsp EACH salt, ground cumin, dried parsley, dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 4-6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- toasted pine nuts
- Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Remove one cup water then drain pasta.
- Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions and sauté for 4 minutes. Add squash and sauté an additional 4 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté 30 seconds.
- Add water, bouillon and all remaining seasonings/spices. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until squash is fork tender, about 8-12 minutes. Add to blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree until smooth being careful to let some steam escape so the lid doesn’t explode (I cover a corner with a paper towel.
- Add butternut squash puree back to pan. Heat through then stir in ½ cup Parmesan until smooth. Add pasta and toss to coat, adding additional Reserved Pasta Water to reach desired consistency.
- Garnish with additional freshly grated Parmesan, bacon and toasted pine nuts.
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