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This hearty and creamy butternut squash pasta topped with fragrant sage leaves is the perfect comfort dinner recipe to cook this fall
Nothing screams fall more than a sweet and comforting butternut squash recipe. Add to that some soothing pasta, and you are not far from perfection! This butternut squash pasta recipe is silky, creamy, and delicious!
It’s one of my favorite recipes to make when the days start to get darker outside, and butternut squash is finally in season.
I love this recipe for butternut squash pasta because it’s rich, buttery, and luscious without the addition of any cheese or cream. All the silkiness comes straight from the butternut squash.
And no matter what you do: do NOT skip the sage. The blend of butternut squash and sage is simply out of this world.
Combining sage and pumpkin or butternut squash is typical in Italian recipes. You normally fry the sage in butter to release all its flavors before adding pasta.
In my healthy version, I opted to fry the sage leaves in extra-virgin olive oil. You’ll still get the incredible herbal fragrance through the butternut squash sauce, plus it’s perfect for vegan and anyone on a dairy-free diet.
How to make butternut squash pasta
How to make the butternut squash pasta sauce
What’s going to take longer than anything else in this recipe is to peel and chop your butternut squash. You can save time by buying pre-chopped squash (but it’s more expensive) or prepping your peeled and chopped squash ahead of time (I normally try to prep all my weekly veggies on Sunday evening).
How do you cut butternut squash? And how do you peel it?
There are many schools of thought on how to cut butternut squash. After trying several methods, this is what works best for me:
1. Using a large, sharp cook knife, cut off the top stem and bottom end of your squash on a cutting board. This will help you make the squash more stable and easier to peel later.
2. Then cut the butternut squash in half, roughly where the cylindrical shape stops and the squash becomes rounder.
3. Place the cylindrical bit on the flat end, and remove the skin using a knife. Peel straight down from the top to the bottom of the squash. You can also use a vegetable peeler. I alternate between these two methods, depending on how big my butternut squash is. I find the peeler works best for small butternut squashes.
4. Cut in half the rounder bit and remove the seeds with a spoon or ice cream scoop. Use the same method as above to peel the two halves.
5. Now you are ready to chop your butternut squash: slice the cylindrical part into rounds about one inch thick. Slice across and cut into cubes. Then chop into cubes the bottom half of the squash.
And you are ready to prep the sauce!
Back to the butternut squash sauce pasta…
To make the sauce, you will need:
- 1 yellow onion (or 4 small shallots)
- 12-14 sage leaves
- 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cups chopped butternut squash
- 1 cup of oat milk (or almond milk, soya milk, or vegetable broth)
Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil, and add the chopped butternut squash. Cook for about 8 minutes.
In the meantime, add 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil to a pan. Once the oil is hot, add about 8 sage leaves. Let them crisp for about 10-15 seconds on each side and then remove them from the heat and place them on the side. We will use these to garnish the pasta at the end and give them extra flavor.
Tips to fry sage leaves:
- Wash the sage leaves before frying them, but make absolutely sure they are dried throughout before you place them in the olive oil. You can use a clean kitchen towel to dry them completely.
- Add the leaves to the olive oil only when the oil is hot. A few seconds for each side is plenty. Make sure not to overcook them, or they will become brown and bitter. You still want them to be bright green.
- Once cooked, put them on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
Fried sage leaves are incredibly crispy and aromatic. Once cooled, you can crumble them on the butternut squash pasta once it’s served on individual plates for a kick of flavor.
In the same pot, add the chopped onion and another 4-6 sage leaves, add a quarter cup of water and let the onion soften.
Once the butternut squash is cooked (check one cube with a fork to make sure it’s tender throughout), remove the squash from the water using a slotted spoon or mesh skimmer (yes, I used a spatula…because I am a minimalist and I don’t have a mesh skimmer…you need to be inventive in the kitchen sometimes). Add the squash straight into the pan with the onions.
Place the cooked butternut squash, onions, and sage into the blender or food processor. Add the oat milk a bit at a time, and season with salt and pepper. Depending on your squash, you might need to add a bit more milk to reach your desired consistency. Blend until smooth.
Combine the sauce to make the butternut squash pasta
While you are blending your butternut sauce, use the same water you used to cook the butternut squash to cook your pasta. I love to use whole-wheat pasta or chickpea pasta for a gluten-free version. Both options have more fiber and nutrients than your standard pasta.
The butternut squash will absorb some of the water, so you might need to add some more. If you do, remember to season it with salt.
Cook the pasta until al dente according to the package directions, stirring from time to time. By recycling the same water, you will infuse your pasta with some of the butternut squash flavors. Plus, it will save you time, as you don’t have to wait for cool water to boil again.
Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining.
Drain the pasta, then add back to the pan, add the butternut squash sauce, and if necessary, add a bit of the boiling water you saved to thin the sauce.
How to serve butternut squash pasta
Serve the pasta on individual plates, topped with freshly grated pepper, crumbled fried sage leaves, and vegan parmesan cheese (here, I used a combination of shaved walnuts and nutritional yeast – but you can use parmesan or pecorino if you are not vegan).
Can I meal prep this butternut squash pasta?
I wouldn’t meal prep the pasta, as it tends to get a bit soggy after a day or two in the fridge, especially with this type of sauce. But you can easily meal prep the butternut squash sauce ahead of time.
Simply follow the instructions to prepare the butternut squash sauce, then let it cool slightly before storing it in airtight containers.
You can then keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days. Or freeze it for up to 1-2 months in the refrigerator. By meal prepping the sauce, you can cut down your dinner time from 30 minutes to just 15 minutes (the time to cook your pasta noodles and toss them in the sauce).
If you decide to meal prep the sauce ahead of time, use these tips to reheat it:
From the fridge:
Add the sauce to a pan and heat at a low temperature for about 5-7 minutes. Add half a cup to a cup of water to thin the sauce a bit until it reaches your preferred consistency.
From the freezer:
Remove the sauce from the freezer the night before and let it thaw at room temperature. Then reheat in a pan at a low temperature, adding enough water to thin it to your desired consistency.
Is butternut squash pasta healthy?
Butternut squash pasta is extremely healthy.
Especially, dare I say my recipe! Without any added butter, cheese, or cream, this creamy version is not only lush and delicious but healthy too.
Butternut squash is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. And although butternut squash is known as winter squash, it actually grows in the summer, and it’s harvested in the fall. Which makes it perfect as a fall recipe.
Like every other vegetable, when you eat it as part of a whole-food diet, butternut squash can help you to lower and prevent heart disease, manage diabetes, help with digestive health and boost your immune functions.
So make sure you include it as part of your plant-rich diet!
Butternut squash pasta modifications
I love this pasta recipe exactly as it is, but there are plenty of substitutions you can use to make it your own.
You can substitute oat milk with any other plant-based milk. If you want to make this recipe even lighter, you can use vegetable broth or even water.
Onions are essential to add a bit of extra flavor, but if you don’t like onions or prefer a more pungent taste, you can opt for 2 cloves of garlic.
Fresh sage leaves are a must in this recipe. Using any other herb wouldn’t make it justice. But if you really don’t have any fresh sage handy, you can try using dry sage. Or thyme.
If you want to make this dinner even healthier, you can add 2 cups of spinach or cooked broccoli to the pasta when you toss it with the butternut squash sauce.
More pasta recipes you absolutely need to try:
Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta
For the butternut squash pasta sauce:
For the pasta:
- 12 ounces pasta (whole-wheat, gluten-free, legume-based pasta)
- fresh sage leaves
- black pepper
- chopped or grated walnuts, parmesan, or pecorino
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and add the chopped butternut squash. Cook for about 8 minutes.
- In the meantime, add 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil to a pan. Once the oil is hot, add about 8 sage leaves. Let them crisp for about 30 seconds on each side and then remove them from the heat and place them on the side for the final topping.
- In the same pot, add the chopped onion and 4-6 sage leaves, add a quarter cup of water and let the onion soften.
- Once the butternut squash is cooked, remove it from the water using a slotted spoon or mesh skimmer. Add the squash straight into the pan with the onions.
- In the same boiling water you used for the butternut squash, cook the pasta until al dente according to the package directions, stirring from time to time. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining.
- Place the cooked butternut squash, onions, and sage into the blender or food processor. Add the oat milk a bit at a time, and season with salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
- Drain the pasta, then add back to the pan, add the butternut squash sauce, and if necessary, add a bit of the boiling water you saved to thin the sauce.
- Serve the pasta on individual plates, with freshly grated pepper, crumbled fried sage leaves, and your favorite topping (here, I used a combination of shaved walnuts and nutritional yeast - but you can use parmesan or pecorino if you are not vegan).
Have you tried this butternut squash pasta recipe? What do you think? Let me know in the comments!
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