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  • Writer's picturedeborahreinhardt

Tricolor pasta with roasted butternut squash

farfalle with butternut squash and sage
Healthy butternut squash is the real star behind this colorful pasta dish.

Easy to prepare and richly satisfying, this pasta recipe hits all the notes for autumn.

It’s not as though I don’t like summer. There’s amazing fresh produce on summer’s “reason to like me” list. But this year, that’s about all the season had going for it (thank you, COVID-19). And so, like many of you, I was ready to say buh-bye to summer and hello gorgeous to autumn.

What's not to love? Cooler weather, fall foliage, fire pits, and the flavors! Let’s talk about warming spices, tons of roasted veg, hot chocolate (with a splash of bourbon, thank you), soups and stews, pies, and the big food event, Thanksgiving. Unofficially (or maybe officially for all I know), fall is the season of comfort food.

Which is why I love this recipe because it combines one of America’s favorite comfort foods (pasta) with key autumn ingredients like winter squash, cinnamon, butter, and sage. Also, while the squash is roasting in the oven, you can start prepping other ingredients. When the veg is finished, the dish comes together pretty quickly. Have the table set and wine poured and you’re ready to go.

Before we get to the recipe, a couple of notes worth sharing. When I made this dish, I took the shortcut of buying chopped butternut squash from the grocery store. It's a brilliant kitchen hack, but the pieces were on the smaller size and got a little lost in the finished dish. The flavor was there, but I would have personally liked chunks of orange, velvety-soft veg mixed with the farfalle. So next time, I’ll have to put on my big girl panties and prep the squash myself. You make the right decision for you.

However you slice it, butternut squash is a winning vegetable. Its beautiful orange color comes from the carotenoids like beta-carotene, making the veg a good source of vitamin A. Winter squash is higher in carbs than summer squash, but it’s also high in pectin and is loaded with B vitamins. And according to the Farmer’s Almanac

, winter squash can help to steady blood sugar. Vitamin A also enhances our bodies’ immune function, something that’s especially important this fall and winter.


Tricolor Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash

Makes 4 servings


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

¾ pound (about 2 cups) peeled butternut squash, cut into ½-inch pieces

6 to 8 leaves fresh sage

1 onion, diced

12 ounces farfalle (bow tie pasta)

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano

Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss squash with 1½ teaspoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente (check instructions on package). While the pasta is cooking, add remaining 1½ teaspoons olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is warm (not smoking), carefully angle the pan so the oil pools to one side and fry the sage leaves, being careful not to let them scorch. Remove with a slotted spoon and set on a paper towel to use later.

Add the onion to the pan and cook until translucent. Return cooked squash to the skillet and add cinnamon.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking water. Add pasta, cheese, and reserved water to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until sauce thickens. Transfer to a bowl, top with fried sage, and serve immediately.

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