This creamy butternut squash pasta with sage combines a delightful blend of flavours into a hearty bowl of comfort food. Al dente cooked pasta is smothered in a delicious sauce made from butternut squash, garlic, onions, cream, fresh sage and earthy nutmeg. An aromatic and luxurious dish that is wonderfully easy to prepare, this fall recipe is a perfect weeknight meal that will keep you warm and cozy, any time of year.
Butternut squash is a lovely ingredient to use in the kitchen. It is very versatile and can be prepared in many ways; roasted, cooked, or steamed. Butternut is mainly known as a seasonal ingredient for fall or winter, however, this orange vegetable is available in most stores all year round. This pasta with butternut squash recipe is preferably made during the colder months in fall or winter, but don’t hold yourself back any other time of the year.
Why you will love this recipe
- It is the perfect comfort food for a weeknight meal after a long day at work.
- The deep earthy and warm aroma of sage complements the sweetness of butternut squash, elevating the taste of this butternut pasta dish.
- It is a great make-ahead meal, so you can prepare it in advance and eat it immediately after getting home with minimal effort.
- Leftovers will still taste delicious the day after and can also be taken to work for an easy lunch.
Butternut pasta sauce ingredients
- Pasta: Use any pasta you like, but for this recipe I have used fusilli for this pasta butternut squash sauce.
- Butternut squash: The best sauces are made with a fresh butternut squash, although it does require some work to peel, seed and chop the butternut. As an alternative, you can use store-bought cubed butternut squash or frozen butternut. You can also substitute the butternut with pumpkin. Just be home before 12 midnight.
- Onion and garlic: Both garlic and onion provide some extra depth of flavour to any sauce. For this recipe, 2 cloves of garlic will do just fine. Preferably use fresh garlic, but you can substitute fresh with garlic powder if that is what you have at home.
- Olive oil: I recommend to use olive oil to sauté the vegetables for some extra Italian flair.
- Cream: Just a bit of heavy cream to give an extra layer of creaminess to the sauce.
- Sage: You can either use fresh or dried sage leaves. Fresh sage has a wonderfully minty, piny and earthy aroma, whereas the taste of dried sage is more concentrated, so you night want to use less dried sage leaves.
- Red pepper flakes: Use either dried chili flakes or cut some fresh chili for that extra hint of spiciness that works great in this dish.
- Nutmeg: A touch of freshly grounded nutmeg works wonders to elevate the flavours of the butternut squash sauce.
- Seasoning: Season with salt and pepper to taste, but also add a teaspoon of dried Italian herbs to the mix, such as oregano, basil, thyme or marjoram.
- Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated parmesan cheese is always a must to finish off any pasta dish.
How to make butternut squash pasta
Note: All the exact quantities of the ingredients can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Chopping the vegetables, especially the butternut can take a bit of time, so feel free to use store-bought pre-chopped butternut squash or frozen butternut cubes if you’re short on time. While the pasta is cooking, you can start prepping the butternut squash sauce.
For the rest, this recipe comes together fairy easily by just following these simple steps:
- Cook the pasta: Cook your pasta of choice al dente according to the instructions on the package. Just make sure to cook the pasta in a large enough quantity of salty water. When the pasta is ready, drain and set aside for later.
- Prepare the butternut: Forget this step if you are using pre-chopped butternut, otherwise remove the stem, peel the butternut and remove the seeds. Chop in equally sized cubes to allow for equal cooking.
- Prepare the other ingredients: Peel and finely chop the onions. Mince the garlic cloves, unless you’re using garlic powder. Roughly chop the sage leaves.
- Sauté the vegetables: Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet/pan over medium heat. Sauté the chopped onions for a few minutes until translucent. Add the garlic, red chili flakes, sage leaves and butternut squash cubes and sauté an additional few minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Cook the vegetables: Pour in the water and a good pinch of salt. You just need a bit of water so the butternut can steam. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and leave to simmer uncovered for 8-12 minutes until tender. Test with a fork if the squash is soft enough to be mashed into a sauce.
- Make the sauce: For making the sauce, you can use either a potato masher or a stick/immersion blender. If you use an immersion blender, do it on low speed. Keep blending or mashing until the vegetables are soft and smooth. Add the cream and season with dried Italian herbs. Add additional nutmeg, salt and/or pepper to taste. Bring the sauce to a simmer again so the cream can cook in and the liquid can slightly evaporate until you get a nice thick, creamy sauce.
- Combine the pasta with the sauce: When the sauce is ready, add the pasta to the sauce and mix to coat. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve.
How to store
When making this pasta with butternut squash sauce in advance, you can opt to mix the pasta in the sauce or store the sauce and cooked pasta separately. In both cases, leave to cool to room temperature and store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Re-heat in the microwave oven to the desired temperature.
How to freeze
This butternut sage sauce can perfectly be frozen. So when making a large batch of it, you can serve some right away then divide the rest into smaller batches and store in the freezer for up to 3 months in properly labelled airtight containers.
Thaw overnight in the fridge and re-heat in the microwave oven. Or heat in a saucepan on low heat on the stove top.
You can serve this creamy butternut squash pasta recipe as an easy main meal for dinner or lunch. Or make it more elegant for a dinner party by garnishing with chopped walnuts, pinenuts or crispy pancetta.
Make it extra healthy by serving with some vegetable side dishes like:
- Peperonata or Italian stewed peppers
- Shaved fennel salad
- Italian green beans with garlic and onion
- Oven roasted fennel and carrots
More butternut recipes to try
Creamy butternut squash pasta with sage
- 14 ounces (or 400 grams) fusilli pasta
- 4 cups (or 820 grams) butternut squash peeled and diced into 1 inch (or 2.5cm) pieces
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup (or 250 ml) water
- ¼ cup (or 60 ml) heavy cream
- handful sage leaves chopped
- ⅓ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ⅓ teaspoon nutmeg freshly grated
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs (basil, parsley, oregano)
- pepper and salt to taste
- Parmesan cheese freshly grated
Cook the pasta
- Cook the pasta al dente according to the package instructions in salty water. Drain well and set aside.
For the creamy butternut squash sauce
- Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot/skillet over medium heat and sauté the onions for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, sage and diced butternut squash. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Sauté for an additional 4 minutes.
- Pour in the water, add a good pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and leave to simmer, uncovered, for approximately 10 minutes until the butternut squash is tender. Use a fork to test.
- Mash the butternut with a potato masher, or an immersion blender on low speed until smooth.
- Add cream, salt, pepper, dried Italian herbs and nutmeg to taste and mash the butternut squash some more until smooth and creamy once again.
- Re-heat the butternut squash sauce on low and let any excess liquid cook out a bit in order to create a nice thick, creamy sauce. The sauce should not be too liquid.
Combine the pasta with the sauce
- Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and mix to coat well.
- Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve. Bon Appétit!
- Nutmeg: Freshly grated nutmeg has such a lovely aroma, so consider using this. But feel free to use ground nutmeg if you have it at home.
- Dried herbs: I use dried Italian herbs in this dish, but fresh herbs like oregano, parsley or basil will also work just as well.
- Store: Store in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freezer for 3 months. Use an airtight container.