Pasta with Butternut Squash, Bacon, and Brown Butter

Butternut squash, bacon, and browned butter are made for each other. Pasta brings it all together, and the sage adds an earthy element. Make this for dinner tonight—or for when company comes!

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Morton’s kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 pound pasta, such as penne, rigatoni, or other short-shaped pasta
  • 8 ounces bacon (7 to 8 slices, depending on how thickly they are cut)
  • 1/4 cup sliced shallots
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (4 ounces/8 tablespoons)
  • 4 to 5 sage leaves
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Method

1 Roast the squash: Preheat the oven to 425°F. On a rimmed baking sheet, combine the squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet, and toss to coat.

Roast for 20 minutes, tossing half way through to evenly brown. When it’s ready, the squash will be soft and some of the edges will have browned.

Butternut Squash Browned Butter Pasta roast the squash

2 Cook the pasta: Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta to al dente, or according to package directions. Drain well and set aside.

Butternut Squash Pasta - Cook the pasta

3 Fry the bacon: In a large, deep skillet (I used cast iron), put the bacon in a cold pan and cook over medium heat until crispy. Remove from the skillet and drain on paper towels.

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta fry the bacon

4 Cook the shallots: Place the skillet back on the stove, but with the heat turned off. Drain all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.

Add the shallots and cook in the residual heat from the skillet; this helps prevent the shallots from burning. If they don’t seem to be cooking fast enough, turn the heat to medium-low and cook for just a couple of minutes until they start to soften and become aromatic. Transfer the cooked shallots to a large bowl.

Butternut Squash Bacon Pasta slice the shallots Butternut Squash Pasta - cook the shallots

5 Combine the bacon, shallots, squash and pasta: After the bacon cools, cut it into small pieces using kitchen scissors (or using a chef's knife), and combine with the shallots in a large bowl—or you can use the stockpot you cooked the pasta in (I like to do this if it's just me and the boys).

Add the pasta and toss to combine. When the squash comes out of the oven, add the squash to this bowl and toss gently together.

Butternut Squash Browned Butter Pasta cut up the bacon Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta add the squash and bacon to the pasta

6 Brown the butter: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir it constantly and keep an eye on it so it does not burn. (See here for full instructions on how to brown butter.) It will start to crackle, foam, and smell nutty. The color will deepen to a caramel/amber hue.

Around when the butter stops foaming—or at least it starts to subside—and the butter turns slightly brown, add the sage leaves.

Remove the saucepan from the heat as soon as the sage leaves start to curl. Pour the butter and the sage leaves into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.

Butternut Squash Bacon Pasta brown the butter and add the sage  Butternut Squash Bacon Pasta add the browned butter and sage to the pasta

7 Combine all ingredients and serve: Toss everything gently together with a wooden spoon. Taste and add salt and/or pepper if needed. Serve immediately with freshly grated cheese over the top.

If you are feeling extra decadent, add a chunk of unsalted butter or a splash of extra virgin olive oil on top when you toss, or some of the reserved bacon grease.

Leftovers keep for about 2 to 3 days and reheat fairly well. I like to add a bit of olive oil or water to the pot when I reheat it over low heat. (I try to avoid microwaving leftover pasta because it just makes it gummy.)

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