When you want comfort and decadence but need wholesome and nourishing, Butternut Squash Pasta is the solution. Butternut squash is the secret to the swoon-worthy sauce, making it the ideal addition to your healthy recipe rotation.
The hidden veggies in the sauce make this an ideal pasta for kids…or anyone who is veggie shy.
For this pasta, the secret sauce (literally) that makes it special is roasted butternut squash.
As this Roasted Butternut Squash demonstrates, cooking squash in the oven until it is caramelized and tender unlocks its true potential.
- This pasta makes the most of the roasted squash’s nutty, sweet, and melt-in-your-mouth goodness by blending it into the sauce.
- From there, elevated additions like Roasted Garlic, brown butter, and gouda make it a forever-keeper you can serve to company.
This easy butternut squash pasta is on our house favorites list, and I know it will earn its spot on yours.
Let’s make it!
Reasons to Love Butternut Squash Pasta
If you haven’t already been sold on the idea of butternut squash pasta, here are some of the reasons why I love this recipe so much:
- CHEESE. Butternut squash pairs well with cheese, and while this isn’t a mac and cheese recipe per se (turn to Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese for that), the cheese and butternut squash elevate one another beautifully.
- It’s Versatile. Not only can you enjoy this recipe as a side or vegetarian main, but you can also upgrade it by adding a filling protein, like in this Butternut Squash Sausage Pasta.
- It’s Nutritious. This is a creamy, comforting pasta dish without heavy cream, meaning it’s fairly wholesome. Healthy swaps keep things light, and an array of veggies add valuable nutrition. (For those who like a little extra nutrition punch, see the FAQ section below for more ideas of what to add.)
How to Make Butternut Squash Pasta
This roasted garlic and butternut squash pasta tastes luxurious, far more so than you’d expect from its comparably lean ingredient list.
The majority of this recipe’s creaminess and richness comes from the butternut squash itself.
Combined with a touch of milk and cheese, the squash becomes a sumptuous pasta sauce.
- Pasta. Whole wheat pasta ensures that this dish is full of filling fiber and added nutrients. I used rotini, but you can use any short, tubular noodle you prefer.
- Butternut Squash. Creamy, nutty, and naturally sweet, butternut squash pairs well with a cheesy sauce. It’s also packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.
- Garlic + Onion. The small but mighty flavor builders. These roast on the sheet pan right along with the butternut squash.
- Milk. Helps make the squash sauce extra creamy. I used 1% milk, but you can use any milk you have on hand.
- Butter + Sage. Cooking the sage leaves in browned butter adds earthiness, warmth, and richness to the butternut squash sauce.
- Cheeses. Nutty, creamy Gouda and savory Parmesan are the perfect cheesy duo to take this butternut squash pasta from simple to spectacular.
- Red Pepper Flakes. A touch of heat is the perfect complement to the sweet and savory notes.
- Cut the top off of the garlic, drizzle it with olive oil, wrap it in aluminum foil, then place it on a baking sheet. Prick the squash all over, slice it in half, scoop out the seeds, and place it on the baking sheet.
- Trim, peel, and halve the onion. Add it to the baking sheet.
- Roast at 400 degrees F for 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool.
- Cook and drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
- Remove the squash skin, then add the flesh to a blender with the onion and garlic cloves.
- Add milk and blend until smooth.
- Brown the butter with the sage in the pasta pot.
- Stir in the squash sauce and Gouda.
- Stir everything together. ENJOY!
- To Store. Refrigerate pasta in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat, adding a splash of milk as needed for moisture. You can also reheat this dish in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze pasta in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Roast the butternut squash, garlic, and onion up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate them in an airtight storage container until you’re ready to finish the recipe.
What to Pair with Butternut Squash Pasta
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Baking Sheet. It is better to roast butternut squash than boil it, so a baking sheet is crucial.
- Blender. Essential for creating the best butternut squash pasta sauce. This more economical version is also great.
- Large Pot. This high-quality pot is perfect for preparing this pasta.
For ultra smooth sauces, spreads, soups, and smoothies, this blender can’t be beaten. It’s great quality and will last you for years to come.
We happily ate this dish multiple nights in a row, then missed it as soon as it was gone.
You will love it! Be sure it finds its way to your table soon.
Frequently Asked Questions
To make this recipe vegan, you’ll need to use a dairy-free milk and butter substitute. For the cheeses, you can use a dairy free version of Gouda and Parmesan. Instead, consider adding butternut squash to this dairy-free Penne Alla Vodka.
To boost the nutrition of this pasta dish, stir in some chopped baby spinach, kale, Roasted Cauliflower Roasted Broccoli, or any other vegetables you enjoy.
- 1 large head garlic
- 1 medium butternut squash 2 pound to 2 1/2 pounds
- 1 small onion
- 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus extra for cooking the pasta
- 1/2 cup low-fat milk (I used 1%), plus additional as needed
- 1 pound whole wheat rotini pasta or similar short, twisty, tubular pasta such as cavatappi, penne, or fusilli
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage plus additional for serving
- 4 ounces gouda cheese shredded (about 1 cup)
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese about 1 ounce, optional
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut the very top off a bulb of garlic so that the top of the cloves are exposed (see Roasted Garlic for even more prep tips). Place a square of aluminum foil large enough to wrap around it completely on top of the prepared baking sheet, set the garlic bulb in its center, then drizzle the garlic with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Wrap the foil up and around the garlic so the garlic is completely enclosed. Scoot it to one corner of the baking sheet.
With the tines of a fork, lightly prick the butternut squash skin all over. Trim off its stem end and a little bit off of its bottom end so it can stand up flat. Stand the squash up on its bottom end, then with a very sharp knife, slice it in half lengthwise from top to bottom. Scoop out and discard the seeds and stringy bit. Place it cut sides-up on the baking sheet.
Trim off the stem ends of the onion and halve it lengthwise through the stem. Peel each half (discard the peels) and then place the halves cut-sides up on the baking sheet beside the squash.
Drizzle the squash and onion with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. With your fingers, rub the squash and onion lightly so the cut sides are evenly coated with oil. Sprinkle the onion and squash with 1 teaspoon salt (it will look like a lot). Roast until the squash is fork tender, about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove and let cool for 20 minutes.
While the squash cools, fill a large pot three-fourths of the way with water and bring to a boil. Salt the water well, then add the pasta. Cook until al-dente according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water (DO NOT FORGET), then drain the pasta and quickly rinse it with cool water. Shake out as much water as you can, then set aside to drain further.
Once the squash is cool enough to handle, tear away the skin and place the flesh into a high-powered blender or food processor in chunks. Discard any dark, burned outer onion layers and then add the remaining onion to the blender. Unwrap the garlic and squeeze the cooked garlic cloves out of their skin. Transfer to the blender.
Add 1/2 cup of the milk and blend until smooth and creamy, adding more milk as needed so that the sauce will blend. The mixture will be thick. Stop to scrape down the blender as needed.
In the now-empty pasta pot, add the butter and sage. Cook on medium-low heat until butter starts to turn amber brown, stirring constantly and scraping up any brown bits that form on the bottom of the pot (this will take 2 to 4 minutes). Immediately add the blended squash mixture and the gouda. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the cheese is melted.
Shake the pasta one more time to remove any lingering water, then add to the pot. Add the red pepper flakes. Stir to combine, adding the reserved pasta water (or more milk) to loosen it as needed. Taste and adjust the salt to your liking. Serve immediately, with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and additional fresh sage.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate pasta in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat, adding a splash of milk as needed for moisture. You can also reheat this dish in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze pasta in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Serving: 1(of 4), about 2 cupsCalories: 746kcalCarbohydrates: 100gProtein: 25gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 49mgPotassium: 795mgFiber: 15gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 20361IUVitamin C: 42mgCalcium: 346mgIron: 2mg
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