Easy Vegan Butternut Squash Pasta is a cozy taste of fall in every bite! This creamy roasted butternut squash pasta with garlic and crunch from toasted pecans is the kind of dish you’ll reach for seconds. Rosemary and freshly grated nutmeg add a warm, earthy flavor to the sweet and savory roasted butternut squash.
And did I mention garlic? Yes, the sauce begins in garlic and extra-virgin olive oil. It’s actually an aglio olio with roasted butternut squash sauce.
Soft, caramelized roasted butternut squash is cooked up with garlic and olive oil to make a creamy, very flavorful sauce. It is creamy, without any cream. The earthy grated nutmeg and crunch from the toasted pecans could be the star of this very fall dish.
Gabby and I had a difficult time keeping our forks (or fingers) out of this pasta recipe! Every piece of pasta wraps around a lovely sauce that is infused with fresh rosemary and roasted butternut squash naturally sweetens it.
The sauce comes together in no time and it’s a really nice vegan/vegetarian recipe to make for the holidays. You truly won’t believe how easy it is to put together.
The hardest part is cutting up the squash!
I always have to do it the difficult way. But I will explain an easier way to deal with cutting up butternut squash.
What ingredients are in easy vegan butternut squash pasta (full printable recipe below)
- butternut squash
- sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- extra virgin olive oil, divided
- fresh rosemary
- garlic cloves
- trottole, cavatappi (rigatoni or penne would work)
- nuts (preferably pecans, hazelnuts, or, almonds)
How to make vegan pasta with butternut squash?
Gather up all your ingredients. I took a photo of the group with my squash already roasted up.
The first step is roast the squash. If you happen to find already cubed squash at your market, it is a time-saver.
Drizzle on the olive oil and season with salt (and pepper, if you’re using). Add some fresh rosemary and cover with another sheet of foil paper and seal it like a pocket.
Get your squash roasting in the oven.
While it roasts, toast up your nuts. I used pecans, because that was what I had on hand.
When there is 10 minutes of roasting time left, start boil the salted water for the pasta. As soon as it boils, add in the pasta.
Next step, remove the nuts from the pan and set aside in a bowl. Use the same pan to start the sauce.
Heat up the olive oil and cook the garlic. As soon as the squash is ready, remove from the oven and add to the pan with the olive oil and garlic. Ladle in a spoonful or two of the pasta water to loosen up the squash. Stir occasionally for a few minutes.
Use a potato masher your spoon to mash up some of the squash. Leave some of the pieces whole.
Check the seasoning and add salt and freshly ground pepper. Add on some ground nutmeg.
When the pasta is one minute less than al dente ready, drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water, and add the pasta immediately to the sauce. Stir to combine with the sauce.
Plate up the pasta and add some fresh chopped rosemary leaves. Check the salt and adjust if needed (to your taste). Drizzle on a little extra-virgin olive oil.
Which pasta is best to use in this sauce?
I used trottole pasta, which is a corkscrew shaped pasta. Cavatappi (another corkscrew shaped pasta) would be great. You could use rigatoni, penne or whatever short pasta you like.
Spaghetti could also work with this recipe.
Can I add cheese to this pasta recipe?
If you’re not vegan (or dairy-free), grate on some Parmigiano Reggiano or pecorino cheese. If you’re vegan/dairy-free and are looking for a “cheesy” flavor, sprinkle on your favorite “parmesan” shreds (or whatever grated vegan “cheese” you like).
Can I make this pasta gluten-free?
Yes, the sauce is naturally gluten-free. Use your favorite GF pasta and combine it with the sauce.
What is an easy way to prep butternut squash?
- An easy way is to roast the squash whole.
- Roast for 20 minutes on a foil lined baking sheet, or just until the flesh softens.
- Carefully remove squash from the oven and let it cool down for a few minutes.
- Slice the squash into halves, carefully removing the skin, and then into the size you need.
- Place the squash back into the oven for about another 20-30 minutes until it’s ready.
Pro Tip: Pressed for time or just don’t want to deal with a whole butternut squash? You can pretty much fine already peeled and cubed butternut squash in almost any market these days.
It truly is a time-savor. Look for already peeled and cubed butternut in the produce section.
Some variations for butternut squash pasta
Simple pasta dishes are easy to adapt. If you follow the recipe as is, it is totally vegan. If you’re not vegan, you could add cheese or add some salty flavor with a little pork. Here are some ideas on how to add in some smoky, meaty flavor:
- If you’re not vegan, go ahead and cook up some bacon. You could make my oven-baked bacon. You could also roast up some prosciutto slices.
- While the squash is roasting, you could also roast up the bacon or prosciutto (to save time). The prosciutto will roast up quickly, so set a timer for 10 minutes and check on it. Crumble it up and add to the squash sauce at the end.
What is a nice side dish for butternut squash pasta?
I already mentioned my roasted Brussels sprouts at the beginning of this post, but you may not be a sprouts fan. You could make my Sicilian Fennel and Orange Salad. It is so easy to make and refreshing.
How to store this pasta:
Once the pasta has cooled completely, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It’s not a pasta recipe I would freeze, so I do not recommend freezing this recipe.
Can pasta with squash be frozen?
I do not recommend freezing this pasta recipe. BUT, you could freeze the sauce. As soon as it cools down, place it in a large zipped lock freezer bag (squeezing out the air)and freeze for up to 2-3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge. Next day, cook up your pasta and heat up the sauce.
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Some other pasta recipes to enjoy:
Vegan Butternut Squash
- 1 large sauce pan
- 2- pounds 2 ½ cups butternut squash peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tsps sea salt more, to taste
- 2 freshly ground pepper to taste
- 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2-3 garlic cloves chopped
- ½ cup roughly chopped toasted nuts (preferably pecans, hazelnuts, or, almonds)
- ground nutmeg I used fresh nutmeg to grate
- 1 pound cavatappi or other curly pasta
- 1-½ Tablespoons coarse salt for the pasta water
- ROAST THE BUTTERNUT SQUASH:
- Heat the oven to 425° F.
- Prep a large baking sheet with foil paper.
- Toss squash, extra-virgin olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt on a baking sheet. season with pepper. Arrange the butternut squash cubes in one even layer so that they cook up evenly.
- Cover the squash with another layer of foil paper and seal the edges to make a pocket. You could also bake without the top layer of foil paper, you’ll just have to keep a better eye on it so it’s not browning too quickly.
- Bake until light gold and tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
- COOK THE SAUCE AND PASTA:
- When the squash is almost finished, start to boil the water for the pasta.
- Bring a large heavily salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, toast the nuts on medium-high heat(I used pecans). Keep stirring and set aside the nuts when they’re ready.
- Once the water’s boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions.
- As the pasta cooks, make the sauce: In the same sauté pan or large skillet, heat up 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Add in the garlic on medium-high heat and cook until it turns a little golden (be sure to not brown or burn it). Adjust the heat if needed and remove the pan from heat if it’s already turned golden.
- Once the squash is roasted, remove from the oven and add to the skillet with the olive oil and garlic, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
- While the pasta is boiling, ladle out some of the pasta water and add it to the skillet with the squash. Use a potato masher or your spoon to break down some of the squash (keep some of the pieces whole).
- Season with salt and some freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your taste.
- Add some ground nutmeg (I had fresh nutmeg and grated it right into the pan).
- Drain the pasta, reserving some more of the pasta water (about ½ cup should be fine).
- Add the pasta immediately to the pan with the sauce. Stir to combine.
- If the sauce is too thick, loosen with a little bit of the pasta water and stir to combine.
- Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to your taste.
- Toss in the toasted pecans and some freshly chopped rosemary. Drizzle on a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil. Plate up and ENJOY!
- Variation: Sprinkle on some vegan “cheese” shreds, or grate on some real cheese (if you’re not vegan or dairy-free).
- Crispy bacon: Crumble on some crispy bacon or prosciutto.
- Vegan bacon: If you’re vegan/meat-free, use vegan bacon.
- Serving ideas: Serve with my roasted Brussels sprouts or my Sicilian Fennel Orange Salad.
- How to store and reheat leftovers: If cooking a pound of pasta, you’ll use up most of the sauce. If you’re cooking up less pasta, use only the amount of sauce you’ll need. The rest of the sauce could be stored in airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.