I’m almost forty years old and I think I’ve almost hit my life quota for bland pasta and red sauce. It’s a meal that’s a staple for so many people and is definitely one in our house as well. In case you are ready for a change-up though, try this Creamy Squash Pasta Sauce!
I think that’s why I loved this squash pasta sauce recipe so much. It was just something completely different. Creamy and savory squash tossed with noodles was like a comfort food breath of fresh air. My family ate big heaping bowls of it (even the kiddos tried it) and agreed that this is what noodle dish should be.
Add this creamy kabocha squash pasta sauce with a spaghetti dish to your menu plan as soon as possible.
What kind of squash will work for this pasta sauce?
There is nothing special about the squash I used for this recipe, but a winter or fall squash works best. You want something that you can roast and then puree. I used a kabocha squash with is a wonderfully sweet squash with a deep orange color.
You could use a more common squash like butternut, but there’s something beautiful about this color and flavor of kabocha. An acorn squash would be another substitution that would work really well.
These days you can find any of these winter squash varietals at most grocery stores though so find one that looks good to you and try it out! If you can find a kabocha squash though, give it a shot. It kind of looks like acorn squash but is a little bigger and a little uglier.
How to make creamy squash pasta sauce
For starters, you need to cook the squash. You could roast this sucker for like 45 minutes for this recipe, but I just microwave mine. That’s right! I used my microwave!
Cut the squash in half and poke some holes in the skin with a fork. Then put it on a microwave-safe plate, cut side down, and nuke it in 5-minute bursts until it’s very tender and steaming hot. Should take 10-15 minutes!
Depending on the squash you use, you might need to vary your cooking time a bit.
Meanwhile, in a medium or large skillet, add some olive oil plus the onion, garlic, and cashews. The cashews might sound odd, but they actually work great in creamy sauces like this.
When your squash is tender and your onion mixture cooked, toss it all together in a food processor or blender with about a cup of reserved pasta water. Blend it up until it’s nice and smooth!
Finishing your pasta with the squash sauce
Of course, you’ll need noodles! I just used linguine for this recipe but any noodle would work fine. Most importantly, remember to reserve about 2 cups of pasta water as that’s what’ll help bring the sauce together.
Add that mixture back to your pot and add your nutmeg, cayenne pepper, brown sugar (very important) and half and half. Then you can fold in the noodles!
Once everything is tossed together, it’s kind of a taste and go story. It may need a pinch of salt and pepper (probably), it may need a little more pasta water, or you could add some extra cayenne if you want it to have more of a kick.
Serve it up in deep bowls with parmesan and chives.
What to serve with this pasta
This is a nice meal with no side dishes. It has a big serving of veggies in it thanks to the squash in the pasta sauce. If you wanted to serve it alongside a protein, it would be delicious with this chile steak or this sous vide flank steak, if you were so inclined.
A good salad would be the other option for serving. Check out my salad archive for some ideas there!
Leftovers and reheating
This sauce reheats really well, but I wouldn’t microwave it since that won’t heat the sauce evenly. Instead, add a splash of water to a skillet over medium heat and then add the pasta with sauce. Stir as it heats and it will come back to life!
The pasta will keep great in the fridge for a week or so!
- Need a pasta recipe you can make in advance? Try this Freezer Baked Ziti!
Creamy Kabocha Squash Pasta Sauce with Spaghetti
- 1 kabocha squash, roasted or microwaved
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ sweet onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ⅓ cup cashew nuts
- 12 oz. linguine pasta
- 1 cup pasta water
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ cup half and half
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- Salt and pepper
- Pinch of cayenne
- Chives, garnish
- Parmesan cheese, garnish
- Cut squash in half and poke some holes in the outer peel with a fork. Microwave squash in 5 minute bursts on high, cut side down, until the squash is very tender. (10-15 minutes depending on squash and microwave power). Let squash cool a bit. Then scoop out seeds and scoop squash flesh into a bowl.
- Cook pasta according to package in salted water until it’s al dente. Reserve 2 cups of pasta cooking water. Drain rest of pasta and set aside.
- In a medium skillet add olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and cashew nuts. Cook until veggies soften, 3-4 minutes.
- Add squash and onion mixture to a food processor along with 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Pulse until smooth. If the sauce seems very thick, add more water. It should be thick, but pourable.
- Add squash puree to pot along with nutmeg, cayenne, and half and half. Stir together and then fold in noodles. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve noodles garnished with chopped chives and Parmesan cheese.