Rotini with Butternut Squash Sauce

Today was a big day at my house.  Daylight Savings Time started today so I was an hour behind before I even got started.  On my list for today:  make chicken stock; roast giant butternut squash languishing in the kitchen; weed small vegetable bed; plant seeds for collards, beets and peas; start seeds for summer garden; make enchiladas for tomorrow; make dinner.  Believe it or not I did actually get it all done.  Given that dinner was the end of a very long day I knew that dinner would have to be easy.

Ever since I went to Italy in 2010 I’ve been wanting to make pasta with pumpkin sauce.  I saw a recipe printed on a hundred different note cards, placemats and hand towels.  Of course I didn’t buy any of them so I’m left to search for a recipe.  Found one on   Since I just roasted a butternut squash I decided to substitute that for the pumpkin.  I had half an onion leftover from the enchilada filling and a red pepper that Mom gave me last week.  That’s most of what I needed for this sauce.  It comes together in less than 20 minutes even including the chopping. 

The recipe calls for you to reserve some of the pasta water to thin the sauce. I didn’t find that necessary.  In fact, it might have been better if I’d spun it in the blender for a few seconds to fully integrate the squash and peppers.  I used whole wheat rotini instead of penne because it’s what I had.  The penne would be more elegant and would be great for delivering the sauce.  This sauce is sweet and velvety and the flavors are very subtle.  It’s important to finish this with a good quality pecorino/romano cheese.  Something sharp and salty to balance out the mellow squash and red pepper flavors.  I think if you wanted to use a bleu or gorgonzola cheese instead that would be good too.

I’d recommend this sauce for pasta with sausage or cheese ravioli too.  I got so involved in the pasta that I completely forgot I had planned to have sauteed green beans and roasted brussels sprouts on the side. Another night.

Good? Yep.
Easy? Yep.
Good for company? A nice way to have something elegant when you only have a few minutes to pull it together.
Special shopping? Nope.

Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce


1 onion, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup roasted, mashed butternut squash
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons heavy cream
freshly grated nutmeg to taste
1/2 pound whole wheat rotini
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
freshly grated Parmesan as an accompaniment


In a large skillet cook the onion, the bell pepper, and the garlic in the butter over moderate heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, stir in the pumpkin, the broth, the cream, the nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste, and simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. While the sauce is simmering, in a kettle of salted boiling water boil the pasta until it is al dente, ladle out the reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water, and drain the pasta well.

Add the pasta to the sauce, cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring and thinning the sauce if needed with some of the reserved cooking water, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the pasta is coated well, and stir in the parsley. Divide the pasta between 2 plates and serve it with the Parmesan.

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