Pasta with Butternut Parmesan Sauce

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Recipe updated Nov. 18, 2011

One of the best things about fall is the abundance of pumpkins and hardy winter squash. Ever wonder why winter squash is called “winter” squash when it first makes its appearance in the fall? Perhaps because if stored in a cool place, they’ll last several months, well into winter. Anyway, butternut squash is the queen of winter squashes. The taste is so good, and so consistent, that from what I understand, most “canned pumpkin” that we use to make pumpkin pie is actually made with a variety of pumpkin more akin to butternut squash than to the pumpkins we use for jack-o-lanterns. (See Canned pumpkin is it really pumpkin?)

The ever fabulous Garrett came over recently with a pint of roasted butternut squash purée and a mission to create a pasta sauce with it. We often find butternut squash inside of ravioli, why not on the outside? It just needed to be thinned a bit with water, made savory with Parmesan, and brightened with some sour cream and parsley. The result was absolutely delicious; I ate the leftover sauce with a spoon straight out the fridge for days.

Pasta with Butternut Parmesan Sauce Recipe

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  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 4-6.

This sauce will work with any pasta, but spaghetti is an especially good pairing.

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash weighing about 2 1/2 pounds
  • 1 pound pasta
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of chopped shallots or onions
  • 1/4 cup of packed, freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley, for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Water as needed to thin the sauce, about 1 cup

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the butternut squash lengthwise in half* and scoop out the guts and seeds and discard them (or save the seeds and toast them). Pour 1/4 cup of water into a pyrex or ceramic baking dish and place the butternut squash halves cut side down. Bake for 40 minutes or until a fork easily pierces the squash. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Scoop out the squash flesh from the skins and put into a blender. Discard the skins.

2 Saute the onion in the olive oil over medium-high heat in a small skillet until just beginning to brown, about 3-4 minutes. Add the onions to the blender. Add 1 cup water, the parmesan, 2 teaspoons salt and nutmeg and puree. If you need a little more water, add it. Pour the sauce into a small pot set over low heat. Mix in the sour cream and warm it through. Do not let the sauce boil.

3 Fill a pot with water and salt (1 tablespoon of salt for every 2 quarts of water). Set over high heat to bring to a hard boil. Add the pasta and cook at a hard boil, uncovered until al dente. When the pasta is ready, drain and put it into a bowl. Mix with a little of the sauce and serve. Add a dollop of additional sauce and some parsley right when you bring it to the table.

*Be careful when you cut the squash, winter squash are hard! The best way to do it safely is to slice a bit off of both ends so that you can stand the squash upright without it rolling. Then cut down the middle. See how to cut and peel a butternut squash for visuals, though note for this recipe you do not want to peel the squash before roasting.

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Showing 4 of 41 Comments

  • Dev

    I made this recipe back in 2009 with fresh roasted butternut squash and loved it. Fastforward to 2011 when I have a 13 month old running around and decided to cut the cooking time by using canned organic butternut squash puree and loved it even more! The texture was more sauce-like with the canned squash. This recipe always hurtles me into fall. Thanks for posting.

  • Robin

    O.M.G.

    We had 4 big leftover sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving, and my mom and I were trying to figure out what to do with them when I stumbled upon this recipe. I measured out about a pound of sweet potatoes, mashed them, and added a little water to them because they were very thick….added the rest of the ingredients.. and holy crap. This is so amazing. I’m making extra sweet potatoes every year, just so I can make this sauce.

  • Bonnie

    I thought this was quite good. I used a creamy blue cheese in place of the parmesan, and sage leaves (simmered briefly in butter) in place of the parsley. One thing I don’t understand, however, is why go to the trouble of cutting the squash in half? I just roasted my squash whole for about 1.5 hours, until it was collapsing in on itself when touched. Then cut it open, discarded the seeds, and scraped out the flesh. No need to puree or blend it, as it was completely soft. I guess it’s less time in the oven the other way, but this way retains all the vitamins, and it’s so much easier than struggling to cut through the raw squash with a knife.

  • Cathy

    Love the recipe! In response to Toni, Sept. 28, your idea of adding stock to thin this sauce slightly to make a soup is completely possible.
    I came to making a similar sauce by adapting a Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato soup recipe that I have been experimenting with. Some suggestions: for a naturally sweet sauce/soup use Delicata squash along with the Butternut and sweet potatoes. Also, to provide added fibre to either the sauce or the soup, puree the edible skin of the squash and sweet potatoes along with the flesh. However whatever combination of squash/sweet potatoes you use, you MUST roast them with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of allspice and nutmeg. This process brings out an enormous amount of flavour and those who thought that the sauce was too bland likely didn’t roast the vegetables but rather boiled or microwaved them which leads to a loss of flavour.

  • Moxie

    We made your butternut parmesean sauce using way high quality parm, and served topped with toasted butternut seeds. Another amazing recipe. Thanks much!

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