December is here and it’s time for all of the cozy comfort food. Because we have tons of amazing cookie recipes coming your way soon (AK Cookie Week starts on Monday, 12/6!) I knew I wanted to share a super warming dinner to go with.
This brown butter acorn squash pasta is the perfect balance of sweet and savory with a creamy acorn squash sauce, crunchy toasted hazelnuts, and a sprinkle of parmesan and sage.
If you’ve been looking for some delicious comfort food that just so happens to be vegetarian, this is your recipe! Meatless Monday’s made absolutely amazing. Check out the full post for easy ways to customize with your fav proteins, extra veggies, and more.
Ingredients in this acorn squash pasta
This brown butter acorn squash pasta is easier to make than you think and uses nourishing, delicious ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- For the sauce: you’ll blend up roasted acorn squash, milk of choice, a little brown sugar or maple syrup, cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. It will get nice and creamy!
- Hazelnuts: we’re also toasting some hazelnuts as a lovely, nutty, crunchy garnish on the pasta.
- Butter: you know I had to add a little brown butter to the pasta dish for extra cozy flavor.
- Pasta: I used spaghetti in this pasta dish but feel free to use any pasta shape you’d like — even gluten free pasta! I recommend a twirling pasta like spaghetti or bucatini.
- Seasonings: you’ll also need garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Customize your acorn squash pasta
This vegetarian acorn squash pasta recipe is super easy to customize with the ingredients you have on hand. Heres’s what I can recommend:
- Pick your pasta. As I mentioned, a twirling pasta like spaghetti, bucatini, or linguini is perfect! But feel free to use any pasta you have on hand (I also love fusilli). You can use gluten free pasta as well!
- Choose your squash. Feel free to use honeynut or butternut squash, sweet potato or pumpkin instead of acorn squash. I do not recommend using a canned squash or canned pumpkin for this recipe as the flavor won’t be as delicious.
- Make it richer. Looking for a little more indulgence? Try using heavy cream instead of milk.
- Add a boost of veggies. I think some spinach, mushrooms or peas would be a delicious way to add some veggies to the pasta.
Can I make it vegan?
Sure! Feel free to use your favorite dairy free milk and a vegan butter. Please note that you cannot brown vegan butter, you’ll just want to melt it before adding it to the dish.
Add a boost of protein
Looking for a delicious boost of protein? Try adding:
- A can of chickpeas to keep the recipe vegetarian
- Perfectly crispy bacon cooked in the oven
- Grilled chicken or juicy baked chicken
- Ground pork or turkey sausage (sage sausage would be amazing!)
How to brown butter
The brown butter adds such an incredible flavor to this acorn squash pasta and is easier to make than you think! Get all of my tips and tricks for browning butter in this post and get ready to add it to literally everything.
The best way to cut your acorn squash
The first step in this pasta recipe is to cut & roast your acorn squash. If you’ve never cooked with acorn squash before it can seem a little intimidating, but it’s easier to prep than you think!
- Use a sharp knife to cut off the stem end of the acorn squash, you’ll cut about ¼-½ inch off the end.
- Place the acorn squash cut side down vertically on a wooden cutting board so that it is very secured to your counter. We don’t want the cutting board or squash to wobble as you cut it.
- Next, use your knife to cut the acorn squash vertically down the middle. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and discard them. Then you’re ready to roast!
How to make luxurious acorn squash pasta
- Prep your squash. Once you’ve cut your acorn squash you can place it on a prepared baking sheet and roast it for about an hour until it’s fork tender.
- Toast the hazelnuts. While the acorn squash is roasting you can toast your hazelnuts in a pan for 2-3 minutes until they’re nice and golden and toasty.
- Make the sauce. Scoop that acorn squash flesh into a high powered blender with the milk, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Brown the butter. Set your toasted hazelnuts aside and brown the butter in the same pan. Remove it from the heat but keep the butter in the pan.
- Cook the pasta. Next, cook your pasta according to the direction on the package. Once it’s done you’ll want to toss it right into the pan with the brown butter and mix it up to coat it.
- Add sauce & garnishes. Finally, stir in the acorn squash sauce, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Garnish with the toasted hazelnuts, parmesan & sage leaves and serve!
Store any leftover acorn squash in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days. To reheat simply do so in a microwave safe dish with a splash of milk. You can also reheat it on the stovetop with a splash of water.
More delicious comfort foods
Get all of our amazing comfort food recipes here!
I hope you love this brown butter acorn squash pasta! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!
Brown Butter Acorn Squash Pasta with Toasted Hazelnuts + Sage
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Incredible brown butter acorn squash pasta tossed with toasted hazelnuts, sage, and a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan. This wonderful pasta dish has a sweet & savory acorn squash sauce and is the perfect comfort food for fall and winter!
- 1 medium acorn squash
- ½ cup milk (I use unsweetened almondmilk), plus more if necessary to thin
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar or pure maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice)
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 cup raw hazelnuts, chopped
- ¼ cup salted butter (yes, salted!)
- 12 ounces spaghetti (or sub pasta of choice, even GF!)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
- To garnish:
- 4 sages leaves, cut into chiffonade
- Shaved or grated parmesan
Use a sharp knife to cut off the stem end of the acorn squash, you’ll cut about ¼-½ inch off the end. Place the acorn squash cut side down vertically on a wooden cutting board so that it is very secured to your counter. We don’t want the cutting board or squash to wobble as you cut it. Next cut the acorn squash in half vertically. Use your knife to cut the acorn squash vertically down the middle. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and discard. Place the squash halves flesh side down on a separate medium baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 50 minutes-1 hour or until squash is very fork tender. Set aside to cool for a little bit before scooping out the flesh.
While the squash is cooking: you can toast the hazelnuts: place a large skillet over medium low heat. Add in hazelnuts and toast for 2-3 minutes until nice and golden and fragrant. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add flesh to a high powered blender or food processor and add in milk, pure maple syrup, cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. Blend until smooth, adding more milk if necessary to smooth out the sauce. Set aside.
In the same pan that you toasted the hazelnuts, you can brown your butter: add butter and place over medium heat. The butter will begin to melt, crackle, and then eventually foam. Make sure you stir constantly during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown and turn a nice golden amber color on the bottom of the saucepan, this usually happens right when it foams. Continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Set aside to cool a bit (keeping butter in the pan but removing pan from heat) while you cook your pasta.
Cook pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet with the brown butter, give it a nice stir to coat all the pasta with the brown butter, then immediately add in the acorn squash sauce and garlic powder; stir again until nice and creamy. Generously season with salt and pepper to taste (I like a lot of black pepper!). Garnish with sage and your toasted hazelnuts, and fresh shaved parmesan; stirring into the pasta if desired.
We recommend using spaghetti or bucatini or a similar noodle for best results, though a fusilli or linguine could also be delicious!
To make gluten free: use a gluten free pasta of choice.
Feel free to use honeynut or butternut squash, sweet potato or pumpkin instead of acorn squash. I do not recommend using a canned squash/pumpkin for this recipe as the flavor won’t be as delicious.
If you want a richer pasta, I suggest using heavy cream instead of milk. See the full post for more ways to add protein!
Servings: 4 servings
Serving size: 1 serving (based on 4)
Saturated fat: 8.3g
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats