Take advantage of squash season with this deliciously creamy Butternut Squash Pasta with Fried Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta. The pasta dish is packed with goodness and is the kind of dinner your whole family will love (even if they think they don't like brussels sprouts!).
(This recipe for Butternut Squash Pasta was originally published in October 2014, but was updated with new photos and content in 2021).
My husband says that the worse a television show is, the more likely I am to fall in love with it. I can’t even defend myself against this accusation because, well, it’s true. I've been watching The Bachelor since its inception and you don't even want to know the other reality shows I watch.
But whatever; just because something doesn't necessarily have the best reputation doesn’t mean it can’t be totally enjoyable. Take brussels sprouts, for example. Lots of people can’t stand them, my husband included.
But when I fried them up for this pasta dish, he changed his mind. He also isn’t a big squash lover… But claimed this pasta with butternut squash sauce was delicious. You know, it’s kind of like that time I forced him to watch Rich Kids of Beverly Hills and he ended up getting addicted (but shhhh I didn’t tell you that). There’s a place in life for these sorts of things.
This butternut squash pasta has a lot of steps to it, but don't be discouraged because each step is fairly easy and you can work on one while another is cooking. Here's what you'll need to do:
- Make Butternut Squash Sauce
- Fry Brussels Sprouts
- Cook Pancetta
- Cook Pasta
- Toss everything together!
How to Make Butternut Squash Sauce
The squash will take a little bit of time in the oven so I recommend doing that first. You could even make the butternut squash sauce ahead of time, which would make dinner prep so much easier!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
You can either buy pre-diced butternut squash (sometimes it's a life saver!) or dice it yourself. I love using this guide for tips on how to peel and cut a butternut squash.
In a large bowl, toss butternut squash cubes with olive oil, sage, red pepper flakes, and salt.
Spread the squash on prepared baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes minutes, tossing once halfway through cooking time. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
When squash has cooled a bit, put in in a blender or food processor and add milk, water, and parmesan cheese and blend until smooth.
Don't you just want to eat all the up with a spoon??
If you're making squash sauce ahead of time, be sure to keep in fridge until ready to use!
How to Fry Brussels Sprouts
You can really prepare your brussels sprouts any way you want for this butternut squash pasta. I decided to fry them because I wanted my husband to be more open to eating them. And they were absolutely delicious! But feel free to sauté them or roast them instead.
First, trim the ends of your sprouts and then halve them.
Pour canola oil into large skillet so it comes up about 2 inches and heat to 360 degrees. Once oil comes to temperature, add half the brussels sprouts.
Let cook for about 2-3 minutes, until sprouts are crispy. Remove with slotted spoon to paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining sprouts. The sprouts may fall apart a bit, but that's OK.
How to Cook Pancetta
Just a couple more steps to go! I recommend cooking your pancetta in the same saucepan you'll be cooking your pasta in. This will help save on dirty dishes (which I admit this recipe create a lot of).
Simply cook chopped pancetta for 3-4 minutes over medium heat, until crispy. Remove from saucepan to paper towel-lined plate.
Finishing the Butternut Squash Pasta Dish
Now all you have to do is cook your pasta in lightly salted water until it's al dente.
Drain, return to pot, and add in fried brussels sprouts and pancetta.
And pour in the butternut squash sauce. I recommend using about half and then tossing to coat all the ingredients. Then add more in if you want. It's likely you'll have some leftovers.
Serve butternut squash pasta in bowls and top with more parmesan cheese.
You can serve the remaining sauce on the side so your dinner companions can drizzle more on if they so desire.
My idea of the best night ever is an evening on the couch watching really, really bad TV with a big bowl of this on my lap. Probably with a fire going, too, since this is clearly an autumn or winter dish.
It has so many components together that just work so beautifully together and will really make you appreciate the cold weather months. If there were no fall and winter, there would be no butternut squash and brussels sprouts.
Think about that when you're shoveling your driveway in negative temperatures.
If you want to simplify this dish in a major way, you can simply make the butternut squash puree and leave everything else out.
Simple pasta coated in butternut squash sauce with a little parmesan on top would make me seriously happy. Though now that I know what it's like with fried brussels sprouts and pancetta, I may miss those a bit!
I actually think I’m going to keep a mason jar of butternut squash sauce in my fridge from now on. And maybe even a tupperware full of fried brussels sprouts, too.
More Easy Pasta Recipes
I love pasta and could probably eat a different pasta dish every night and be perfectly happy. This butternut squash pasta is a bit more complicated than most of my pasta recipes (but worth it!), so I also wanted to share some easy pasta recipes with you. Here are some of my favorites:
- Mediterranean Pasta with Chicken Sausage
- Caesar Salad Pasta
- Pasta with Green Vegetables, Herbs, and Feta
- Pumpkin Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Spinach
- Baked Lemon Ricotta Pasta
- Pasta with Turkey Meatballs and Mozzarella
- Pasta with Spicy Sausage, Basil, and Mustard
- Spicy Pasta Alla Vodka (from Cherry on my Sundae)
- Mushroom Stroganoff (from For the Love of Cooking)
So, you see? Just because something has a not-so-great reputation doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not absolutely awesome. I guess it’s not really fair for me to compare food like brussels sprouts to television shows like 90 Day Fiancé, but I’m doing it.
You may think you’re not a fan, but try them and I know you’ll be sucked in. You’ll never look back.
Do you watch bad reality television? Do you like brussels sprouts?
Butternut Squash Pasta with Fried Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta
- 4 oz. pancetta, chopped
- 1 lb. farfalle pasta
- Fried Brussels Sprouts (recipe below)
- Butternut Squash Sauce (recipe below)
- Parmesan cheese, for topping
Fried Brussels Sprouts
- 1 lb. brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and halved
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- canola oil
Butternut Squash Sauce
- 1 ½ lb. cubed butternut squash
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp finely chopped sage
- ¾ Tbsp red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup water
- ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Add the pancetta to the saucepan you're going boil the pasta in (in an effort to cut down on dirty dishes) and cook for 3-4 minutes over medium heat, until crispy. Remove from saucepan to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Fill saucepan with lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain water and return pasta to pot.
- Add fried brussels sprouts and pancetta to pot with pasta. Add about half of the squash sauce and toss to coat pasta. Add more sauce if desired (or you can serve on the side).
- Serve butternut squash pasta in bowls and top with parmesan cheese.
Fried Brussels Sprouts
- Pour canola oil into large skillet so it's about 2 inches high and heat to 360 degrees.
- Once oil comes to temperature, add half the brussels sprouts. Let cook for about 2-3 minutes, until sprouts are crispy. Remove with slotted spoon to paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining sprouts.
Butternut Squash Sauce
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
- In a large bowl, toss butternut squash cubes with olive oil, sage, red pepper flakes, and salt.
- Spread the squash on prepared baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes minutes, tossing once halfway through cooking time. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
- When squash has cooled a bit, put in in a blender or food processor and add milk, water, and parmesan cheese and blend until smooth.
- You can make butternut squash sauce ahead of time and keep in fridge until ready to use.