Butternut Squash Pasta Toss
This butternut squash pasta toss is the exact kind of recipe I keep in my weeknight dinner rotation during the fall. The hardest step (prepping the squash) can be done well in advance, and with that out of the way the whole thing comes together in under 30 minutes.
It’s also a great pasta dish for kids. It has some interesting textures and flavors (sage, walnuts, etc.) but nothing too far out there and most kids will, at a minimum, love the sweet butternut squash in the pasta. My kids definitely picked that stuff out and I was fine with it.
It’s actually the kind of recipe that reminds me of real Italian food. Simple ingredients. Not a lot of fuss. Prepared in the right order. It’s a keeper, trust me!
- Peel butternut squash, halve it, and remove seeds. Then cube into about 1/2-inch cubes. You need 3-4 cups for this recipe which is about 1 small butternut squash.
- In a large skillet over low heat, add olive oil. Once hot, add sage leaves and fry for 15-20 seconds until they start to crisp up. Then remove and let drain on a few paper towels.
- Turn heat up to medium. Add butternut squash cubes to the skillet with a sprinkle of salt. Let cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they take on some color and soften.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package, being careful not to overcook it. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water before you drain pasta.
- Add shallot and garlic to the butternut squash in the skillet and turn heat down to low. Cook for 1-2 minutes so the veggies can soften, but they shouldn’t brown.
- Add pasta to the skillet. Add Parmesan cheese, walnuts, and pasta water and toss well to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve pasta while warm with mini mozzarella balls (optional) and crispy sage leaves.
Butternut Squash Pasta Toss
Okay. Let’s get this out of the way. You can absolutely buy butternut squash already peeled and chopped and that’s fine to use for this recipe. But you can’t use the frozen butternut squash cubes because those are already flash cooked and will just get mushy in the skillet.
So buy the prepared raw squash, or put on the big boy pants and prep one from scratch. They aren’t that much work, but it is the hardest part of this recipe in my opinion.
I halve my squash first and then peel each half with either a really sturdy veggie peeler or a paring knife. Then scoop out the seeds and cube up the squash. If you have decent knife skillets, this’ll probably take you five minutes to prep.
To start the cooking, add a good amount of olive oil to a large skillet. Once the olive oil is hot over medium-low heat, toss in some sage leaves and let them fry for a few seconds until crispy. This will flavor the oil, but also the crispy sage is a great garnish on the dish.
Meanwhile, you can get your pasta started! I found this fun shape for this version (which Theo called Worm Pasta). It’s officially called Trottole but you can use any shape really.
Back to the skillet. Toss in the squash and cook it over medium heat until it is picking up some color. This is looking about perfect.
Then add in the shallots and garlic. A pinch of salt and pepper is a good idea at this point also.
Once that has cooked together, it’s time to finish it. Toss in the pasta along with about 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water (you might need more). Also add the parmesan cheese and the walnuts. The cheese and the pasta water will essentially form a light sauce and the walnuts just give the dish some crunch.
Toss everything together really well and taste it. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Serve it right away with some mini mozzarella balls (optional, but I like them) and a few crispy sage leaves.
This butternut squash pasta toss recipe is one of those recipes that ends up looking more elegant and tasting better than you would think a 30 minute pasta recipe could taste. But that’s the point right?!