Rigatoni with Butternut Squash

Winter squash are a hearty favorite in the fall and winter. We love acorn and spaghetti squash simply with butter, salt, and pepper, and butternut squash lends itself to a variety of dishes. Butternut squash risotto is at the top of that list, but today, I’m combining roasted cubes with pasta, arugula, garlic and a light cream sauce. Oh, and bacon! I love any food that you can eat in a bowl.

There are a number of different versions of winter squash with pasta or rice. Here are a few to give you more inspiration:

Pasta with Roast Pumpkin, Rosemary, Smoky Bacon and Spinach

Wegmans Harvest Whole Wheat Pasta with Escarole & Butternut Squash

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta

Martha Stewart’s Butternut Squash Risotto is my go-to risotto in the winter

This is a rather easy dish, but the hardest task is the first one—cutting the skin off the hard squash. Because of all it’s curves, it can be dangerous wielding a big knife and trying not to lose too much precious squash in the peeling. I have had no luck with paring knives or vegetable peelers with butternuts, but I have a process that works well for me, shown in these pictures with pop-up captions:

Rigatoni with Butternut Squash

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 lb rigatoni or penne pasta, boiled for about 10 minutes to al dente stage
  • 3/4-1 lb thick-sliced bacon, browned, drained, and crumbled (save 3 tablespoons of the fat for the sauce)
  • 1.5 cup chicken broth
  • 1.5 cup half and half or cream
  • 3 tablespoons flour to thicken the sauce
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
  • 2-3 cups arugula, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare the squash:

Preheat oven to 350°

Toss 3/4 of the diced squash in olive oil and roast until tender and browned, about 30-40 minutes. I had a total of about 5 cups of squash.

Make the sauce:

  1. While the squash is roasting, begin the sauce by simmering the remaining diced squash in the chicken broth until tender enough to mash into a puree. Add more broth if it has cooked down. This mixture is half your sauce and the mashed squash helps to thicken the whole thing.
  2. In another pan, cook the bacon, drain it on paper towels and crumble into 1 inch pieces. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat and sauté the onion and garlic for about 2 minutes; add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the flour until well blended, then stir in the half and half and the broth/squash purée. Add the arugula all at once and continue to stir until the sauce is slightly thickened. The arugula will wilt quickly. This should be a thin sauce, rather than a heavy white sauce. Add more broth or half and half to reach desired consistency.*
  3. Toss cooked pasta in a large bowl with roasted squash, bacon, sauce, and Parmesan cheese.

*You could skip the flour thickener in step 2 and rely only on the pureed squash as a thickener. The benefit of a little flour is that it binds the ingredients together and prevents separation.


3 thoughts on “Rigatoni with Butternut Squash

  1. This looks delicious, I will certainly try this, aswel as ‘two peas and their pod’s’ recipe for creamy butternut squash wholewheat linguine….. The idea of using puréed vegetables as pasta sauces is something quite new to me, but I am loving this idea. Thank you.


  2. Yes, I should have mentioned the option of whole wheat pasta, which we normally eat. Puréed vegetables really do make a nice sauce. Enjoy!



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