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now back to our regularly scheduled program

Recipe: butternut squash pasta sauce

We received some snow.

And the Big Bad Wolf stopped trying to blow our house down.

Paradise can be a harsh mistress, but when she smiles favorably upon us there is nothing for it. Time to get outside!

glorious bluebird day with no winds to speak of

I was getting tired of the indoor workouts – continuous motion while going nowhere and still feeling stir crazy. All exercise is not created equal, you know. Kaweah won’t go near the treadmill (she’s scared of it), but she loves to go for a ski. We are both ardent champions of outdoor activity.

let’s go let’s go let’s go!

Jeremy and I finally grabbed a day at Vail too. No lines, no crowds, fresh falling snow, great conditions, and overpriced burgers. We skied the bumps, steeps, and trees. At the end of the day, my entire body was hurting, but in the best way possible.

overlooking vail valley

i biffed in the glades, but it was so pretty i had to take a picture

still on the ground, the view of the lovely snow and blue sucker holes in the sky

By the time we get home from a day on the big ski hills, we are pretty much ready to eat the kitchen counter. Being the planner that I am, I try to have something in the refrigerator that is easy to heat up and consume. Lately, this butternut squash pasta sauce has been a delightful change of pace from cream-based or tomato-based sauces.

butternut squash, butter, greek yogurt, parmesan, sage, shallots, salt, nutmeg, pepper, olive oil

I’ve been crushing on butternut squash for years, but only in the past couple of years have I started to prepare it at home. I find butternut squash ravioli irresistable, but I didn’t want to go to the trouble of making ravioli. I wondered if there might be a way to invert the dish, that is to make the filling the sauce? Sure enough, when I looked around on the interwebs, Elise and Garrett had done just that. I followed their lead with a few changes.

peeled, cored, and diced

toss with salt, pepper, olive oil

I roasted my squash a little differently – with olive oil rather than in standing water. I love the flavor of roasted butternut squash. The reason I diced it up was to increase the surface area of that crispy, chewy outer layer. Once that was in the oven, I sautéed the shallots

add shallots to the pan

cook until golden

When the squash was done, I dropped the pieces into my blender along with the shallots and a cup of water. Actually, I used 2 cups of water in total because my blender wasn’t budging without a lot more liquid. But eventually, it all did purée nicely.


purée in a blender or food processor

Once all of the chunks were gone, I poured the smooth purée into a saucepan and stirred in the Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt, and Greek yogurt. You can use sour cream, but it upsets my stomach. I also went light on the salt because I prefer to sprinkle some salt over the pasta sauce when I serve it. Do what works best for you. Heat the sauce through, but don’t let it come to a boil. At the same time, you want to cook whatever pasta you plan to serve with the sauce.

stir in the remaining ingredients

fresh fettuccine

Sage and butternut squash team up nicely, so I figured I’d add sage as a garnish. Any excuse to fry some sage leaves in butter, an idea from my brilliant friend, Kell. Be sure to fry them until crisp, because the texture is half the fun. It only takes a minute or so and it adds volumes to the entire ensemble.

butter-fried sage leaves

Once everything is ready, I like to toss the pasta with a little bit of the sauce first. Then I dish it up and spoon more sauce on top. Next, sprinkle salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese over everything before garnishing with a few sage leaves. It’s creamy without feeling heavy and I love the sweetness of the butternut squash. The best part is that the sauce will store in the refrigerator for a few days and it makes for easy leftovers on those nights when you don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking and waiting around for dinner.

a satisfying plate for dinner

the sage is totally worth the tiny extra effort

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
[print recipe]
from Simply Recipes

2.5 lbs. butternut squash, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
3 tbsps olive oil
1/3 cup shallots or onions, small dice (I used shallots)
1 cup water, more as needed
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated and packed
1/3 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
1/8 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
salt to taste
2 tbsps unsalted butter
12 medium sage leaves, fresh
extra grated Parmesan for topping
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a roasting pan, toss the butternut squash cubes, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper together until the squash is evenly coated. Roast the squash for 45 minutes, giving them a stir with a spatula every 15 minutes until the squash is fork-tender. Remove from oven and place the butternut squash in a blender or food processor. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small frying pan and sauté the shallots or onions until they start to brown. This takes a few minutes. Place the onions in the blender or food processor along with a cup of water. Add more water as needed – mine was super thick so I ended up using 2 cups of water. Purée the squash until smooth. Empty the contents into a medium saucepan and set on low heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), nutmeg, and salt to taste. You don’t want it to boil (and you don’t want the cheese to melt into a giant clump), just heat the sauce. Meanwhile, melt the unsalted butter in a small pan on high heat. When hot, place the fresh sage leaves in a single layer in the butter and fry. Turn them over after 30 seconds and continue to fry until crisp. Remove from pan. Serve the butternut squash sauce over any pasta (I like it with fettuccine – we had a pound of pasta) and sprinkle Parmesan, salt, and black pepper on top. Garnish with 3 fried sage leaves. Serves 4.

36 nibbles at “now back to our regularly scheduled program”

  1. Linda says:


  2. Nan says:

    I love, LOVE butternut squash and this sounds absolute wonderful. Going into the mix this week, for sure! Thanks Jen!

  3. Kira says:

    mmm this looks and sounds divine! we r huge fans of butternut squash! we have not come across a recipe that uses it that we didnt like :)

  4. Debbie says:

    Just perfect…..

  5. Kristin says:

    Mmmmmmm! Going out for lunch for restaurant week today, & I think one of the lunch entrees on the menu at Lidia’s is butternut squash ravioli. I will have that, & then I may make this!

  6. Connie says:


  7. Chris says:

    I must admit, I drop by your blog to see pics of your pup just as much as your recipes & photography! Once again, so impressed!

  8. joanne says:

    ohhhhh… I never thought of this, but I too have a crush on BNut Squash. Great idea!

  9. Jenny says:

    I will have to try this. Andrew and I are big fans of pumpkin ravioli – so this will be a good chance to try something new that he might enjoy. Thanks.

  10. Bev says:

    Learned a new term today, thank you. “Sucker hole.” Good word for those little teasers of blue that appear on grey days. Kind of like it appears to remind us of what we’re missing. And, understand you were lying on the snow when you photographed it, right? Funny how we have to be in a position like that to see something amazing.

  11. Tracy says:

    Great minds. I just roasted a butternut squash to make ravioli in sage-brown butter sauce, but this looks delicious and is definitely going on the list.

  12. jo-lyn@jo-lyn's cup cakes n' candies says:

    My mouth is literally watering looking at your pictures! This recipe is amazing. I love butternut squash!! I would do this with gluten-free pasta, but other than that, this is a perfect dish for me!!!! =) Thank You!!

  13. EJ says:

    hah! just made this last week with one addition – toasted hazelnuts.

  14. Laura B. says:

    This so has my name written all over it. Love everything about this dish!!!

  15. Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence says:

    I’ve made a similar sauce but with heavy cream. I like how this recipe uses yogurt instead!

  16. Olga says:

    I also love butternut squash and have always wanted to try a pasta sauce with it. I actually have butternut squash. I certainly will be making this soon.

  17. Laurel says:

    I miraculously have all the ingredients on hand, even the sage and shallots, except for the squash which is cheap and easy to get–so I am TOTALLY making this tonight. Thank you!

  18. Jill Mant~a SaucyCook says:

    I have never met a butternut squash I didn’t like and this recipe looks and sounds like a long lost friend. Lovely photo’s too. Cheers!

  19. Three Many Cooks » Six Eye-Catchers says:

    […] Oh Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce, more than any other recipe I saw this week, you had me at hello. Thank you Jen (of Use Real […]

  20. Bebe says:

    Bumps, steeps, and trees – a girl after my own heart! Next time I’m in CO, here’s hoping we can hook up for a run or two…

  21. maljax says:

    Just as an FYI: This works great as a thick, hearty soup if any of you are like me and find out too late that you don’t have any pasta.

  22. amanda says:

    WOW! This is so good. I just made it and added a little extra yogurt to the sauce and we inhaled. I am thinking the leftover sauce would be good to mix in with macaroni and cheese. Double yum! Thanks so much.

  23. Evan says:

    Hi I can’t wait to try this recipe. I am so excited about it. Butternut Squash is one of my favorite veggies, Butternut Squash Raviolis are such a treat, but this recipe is awesome because TJ’s is no longer selling their yummie Butternut Squash Spaghetti Sauce :( at least not anywhere I have gone to recently. Thanks so much for this.

  24. Shelly says:

    Perfect for this said-to-be snowy night! And I can roast the squash during breaks while working from home.

  25. coco mer says:

    such beautiful photos and yes, squash is so simply to prepare AND so delicious. i did one recently after a miserable cold day in the city!

  26. Joy says:

    The butternut squash is looks perfect. I normally just eat it plain, I never think of putting it with pasta.

  27. jenyu says:

    Nan – you’re welcome!

    Chris – ha ha, I think a lot of people come to see the dog more than anything else ;)

    Jenny – I love the ravioli too, but I’m just too lazy to make it.

    Bev – it’s my job to see amazing things, so I’m usually looking at the world from all manner of angles :)

    Tracy – I hoep you like it!

    jo-lyn – yes, if you can find gf pasta, the sauce is spectacular!

    EJ – sweet!

    Brandon – heavy cream or sour cream would be my first choice, but I’m lactose intolerant and yogurt is muuuuch nicer to my tummy :)

    Laurel – score!

    Jill – thanks :)

    Maljax – uh, that probably explains why I ate the sauce straight from the pot?

    amanda – awesome!

    Evan – wow, I didn’t even know they had that (I’ve been out of touch w TJs since I move to CO).

  28. Coryn says:

    I just wanted to stop by and say that I made this last night and it was GREAT. I had made a squash puree to make some bread and was trying to figure out what to do with the leftovers…this was a great solution! The only change I’d make next time is maybe using a chicken broth to thin it rather than water, but overall I was really happy with how it came out! :)

  29. Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce » healthy.natural.easy.ish says:

    […] Loosely adapted from use real butter. […]

  30. Drew says:

    Loved it! Super easy to put together, pretty much just eyeballed all the ingredients–you can’t go wrong when they’re all so good!

    Thanks for the great post!

  31. day thirty one. | well, hello there. says:

    […] sauce on spaghetti and the side was sautéed Swiss chard.  You can find the link to the sauce here.  And the recipe for the Swiss chard is at the end of this blog.  So check out the photos, decide […]

  32. Jess says:

    Ok, this may seem like an elementary question but here goes: at what level of heat do you cook your shallots? Apparently I’m not very good at getting to the “golden” stage; it usually skips to the “charred edges” or just plain “burned” stage. I’ve seen recommendations from med to med-high to high heat, but nothing really confirmed. What is your preference, especially for this recipe? Thanks!

  33. jenyu says:

    Jess – Ah, that’s a good question if you aren’t familiar with browning shallots. I start on high heat for the oil. I toss the shallots in and stir them around so they don’t burn. Reduce the heat if they start to burn, but keep stirring them about every minute or so. The key is to watch them. You’ll see when things go south and that is your cue to reduce the heat if necessary or give it a stir. And, it will depend on how strong your stovetop burner is and what kind of pan you are using. Good luck!

  34. Clearly Delicious » 5 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do with Butternut Squash: Butternut Squash Lasagna with Bleu Cheese and Mozzarella says:

    […] Example: (Basic) Butternut Squash Pasta […]

  35. Butternut Squash Risotto: | Buttered Side Down says:

    […] is anyway. The fried sage leaf garnish is a nice touch (an idea from one of my favorite food blogs, use real butter), but I mostly added it because I had sage around. If you don’t, the risotto is still […]

  36. Paul Latch says:

    Very strange flavor profile… IF I make it ever again, I’ll leave the yogurt out. The dairy covered up the flavor of the onion (shallots). The ratios of squash to to onion is way off. Much less squash is needed.

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