Celebrate this season by sharing this Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta with friends and family! This pasta is surprisingly light but packed with winter flavors like fresh butternut squash, kale, cranberries and chopped walnuts. This is a pasta dish that is perfect to share and sure to impress!
Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta recipe
If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while you may remember that I grew up a terribly picky eater. My grandmother still pokes fun at the fact that there was only one thing I always wanted to eat when I was growing up, macaroni and cheese.
Macaroni and cheese still has a huge place in my heart, but I’ve learned to love quite a few other things, but I still love cheese and pasta together, and this Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta is just that.
When I think of fall and winter, I think of squash. Squash is not something that I would have eaten as a kid, a teenager or even a young adult in college — though, ironically, Greyson loves butternut squash.
It’s something I’ve only grown to love in the last four years or so. Ever since, I’ve loved trying it in different recipes like this pasta dish, butternut squash rice pilaf and these butternut squash crostini I made a few years ago!
Why you’ll love this recipe
This pasta dish is perfect for the holidays for more than just its flavors.
- It’s great to bring to a party or work gathering because it’s vegetarian and super easy to pull together!
- I love that this pasta dish has TWO veggies plus protein from the walnuts and creamy sauce.
- You can customize it with your favorite type of pasta and toppings.
This dish may look complex, but it’s actually super easy to make. I think my favorite thing about it may be how colorful it is, especially because “winter” recipes don’t always seem to be that bright and colorful, that tends to be reserved for summer dishes. Butternut squash is just such a beautiful squash that it livens up the entire dish.
What type of pasta to use
I used medium-sized shells for this recipe, which is similar to orecchiette.
It is one of my favorite pasta types lately, but you could use another shape instead, like penne, ziti or rotini. It even works with long noodles like spaghetti.
You could also use zucchini “zoodles” or spaghetti squash. (Here’s how to make spaghetti squash to use as pasta.)
Butternut squash pasta toppings
We made this pasta recipe last week but I needed to tweak it a little bit before sharing it and I’m so glad I did!
I wanted to add in a bit of a sweet complex because butternut squash is fairly sweet. Not like eating a piece of candy or anything, but compared to the kale, it’s definitely more sweet than savory. The walnuts ended up being a great compliment to the kale and the cranberries complimented the butternut squash so the entire thing was balanced well.
I added in more of the toppings. Here’s what I used:
- butternut squash (could use yellow squash or zucchini)
- dried cranberries (could use raisins or fresh cranberries)
- kale (could substitute spinach instead)
- chopped walnuts (could use pecans or almonds)
- parmesan (could use pecorino or feta)
Having a hearty amount of toppings made this pasta a huge hit with our family!
How to make Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta
This recipe looks complicated, but I promise it’s not! Here’s the gist:
Make the pasta
First, set a medium pot of salted water to boil. Once the water has boiled, start cooking your pasta and set a time for 8-9 minutes. (Check your pasta’s packaging for the proper timing.) Drain once it’s done.
Make the toppings
While the pasta cooks, make the mixins. Then add olive oil to a large frying pan on medium heat. Once the pan and oil are hot, add butternut squash to the pan with ¼ cup of water. Cover the pan and cook squash for 5-7 minutes.
Once the butternut squash is cooked through (you should be able to poke with a fork or spatula easily but be careful not to overcook so the squash isn’t mushy), add about 4 cups of kale, ripped into about 1-inch pieces with the stalks discarded.
Cover again for 2 minutes to wilt the kale. Remove the kale and butternut squash from the pan and place them in a bowl to the side.
Make the sauce
Using the pan from the kale and squash, melt butter. Once almost melted add garlic and flour. Stir flour into butter until completely absorbed.
Add half of the heavy cream and whisk together. As it begins to thicken, add parmesan cheese and whisk to combine. Add the remaining heavy cream and more if needed to have the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Then, in a large bowl add pasta and sauce and toss to coat pasta with sauce. The sauce should not be heavy over the pasta, just lightly coating it.
Then add butternut squash, walnuts, cranberries and kale. GENTLY toss everything together. Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container to be able to serve later.
More pasta recipes
- Easy Pasta Salad without Mayo
- Lemon Orzo Pasta
- One Pot Prosciutto Pesto Feta Pasta
- Quick and Easy Minestrone Soup
- Penne Al Salmone
- 4 cups uncooked Barilla medium shells pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups cubed butternut squash, fresh preferred
- 4 cups kale
- ½ cup low sugar cranberries
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
For the sauce
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons garlic
- 1 tablespoons flour
- 8 oz heavy cream
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Add olive oil to a large frying pan on medium heat
- At the same time, boil a medium pot of water
- Once pan and oil are hot, add butternut squash to pan with a ¼ cup of water or less
- Cover pan and cook squash for 5-7 minutes, be careful not to overcook!
- Once butternut squash is starting to be cooked through (you should be able to poke with a fork or spatula easily but the squash isn't mushy), add about 4 cups of kale, ripped into about 1 inch pieces with the stalks discarded
- Cover again for 2 minutes to wilt kale
- Remove kale and butternut squash from pan and place in a bowl to the side
- Now start cooking your Barilla? Medium Shells pasta and set a time for 8-9 minutes
- Using pan from kale and squash, melt butter
- Once almost melted add garlic and flour
- Stir flour into butter until completely absorbed
- Add half of the heavy cream and whisk together
- As it begins to thicken, add parmesan cheese and whisk to combine
- Add the remaining heavy cream and more if needed to have the desired consistency
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- In a large bowl add pasta and sauce and toss to coat pasta with sauce - the sauce should not be heavy over the pasta, just lightly coating
- Then add butternut squash, walnuts, cranberries and kale and GENTLY toss pasta together
- Serve immediately or store in an air tight container to be able to serve later
Be careful not to overcook the squash. You can use fresh squash, cut out of the skin after the pulp is removed. You can also find prepackaged butternut squash at Target or other grocery stores.
Nutrition Information:Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 392Total Fat: 21g