I so loved coming up with a healthy pasta recipe for my last campaign with Barilla (healthy “spaghetti” and meatballs recipe here!) and am excited to be partnering with them again to bring you a fall-themed pasta recipe featuring Barilla Plus penne pasta.
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It seems a lot of my fall recipes have butternut squash in them somewhere – I just love the natural sweetness it adds – and one of my favorite ways to enjoy it is inside pillowy butternut squash ravioli, topped with buttery fried sage.
I decided to kind of deconstruct my favorite butternut squash ravioli, keeping all the flavors and some of the texture, but made it healthier by using Barilla Plus penne, which is made with a blended flour mix of wheat, lentils, chickpeas, flaxseed, barley, oats, and spelt. I really love the flavor and texture of this line of pastas, and using it makes pasta night feel like a healthy choice when I know I’m working in protein, fiber, and omega-3s!
I buy Barilla Plus at Stop & Shop, but most major grocery chains carry it these days.
Now, this pasta dish – if you want to make it totally vegetarian, just omit the pancetta. I love the flavor and texture it adds but it’s an easy omission if you want to go meatless.
Roasting, then pureeing, the squash with the pasta cooking water creates a creamy sauce without a single drop of butter or cream. Pasta water is practically magical and I almost always reserve a little after my pasta is cooked in case my sauce needs a little extra creamy something.
I love a variety of textures in my food and this pasta hits all the marks for me – the pasta has just a touch of bite left to it, pancetta adds a pleasantly chewy element, the pureed squash is silky smooth, and the hazelnuts add the perfect touch of crunch.
Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta
1 box Barilla Plus penne pasta
2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and large-diced
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
1 tbsp. maple syrup
3 oz. pancetta, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. dry white wine
1/3 c. hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
Preheat oven to 400º.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a small handful of salt to the water, then add pasta and cook according to the package directions. Drain in a colander, reserving 1-2 cups of the cooking water.
Toss squash with 2 tbsp. olive oil, thyme, rosemary, sage, and maple syrup in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Pour onto a baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Bake until very tender, about 30 minutes, then let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, place a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon and pour off any drippings from the pan.
Add remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil to the same saucepan and cook onions over medium heat until soft and golden. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Pour in wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon – cook 2 minutes.
Scrape squash, herbs, and olive oil from the baking sheet into a food processor. Process with the lid on and slowly pour in pasta cooking liquid through the hole in the lid until the squash takes on the consistency of a creamy sauce.
Add the squash and pasta to the onions in the pan and stir to coat over medium heat. Add more pasta water if the sauce feels too thick.
Remove from heat, sprinkle with hazelnuts, and serve.
Click here for a printable recipe.