This Sausage and Butternut Squash Pasta features a creamy, lightened up pasta sauce, fresh kale and browned Italian sausage. This is the perfect family friendly dinner recipe that is ready in about 30 minutes!
Are you craving a satisfying pasta dish, but want to lighten things up a bit? This easy Butternut Squash Pasta is perfect for you! This comfort food dish incorporates a variety of vegetables, and it has the most perfect Fall feel into it. It is the kind of recipe even your pickiest eaters will love!
Aside from the creamy sauce this dish features flavorful kale, browned Italian sausage, al dente penne pasta and of course, salty parmesan! Pair this dish with my favorite gluten free Red Lobster Biscuits, or these Three Cheese Basil Biscuits for a real treat!
Ingredients for Kale and Sausage Pasta
As always, this is a quick overview of the ingredients you will need for this recipe. To get the complete recipe just keep scrolling.
- Italian Sausage: ground Italian sausage works best for this recipe.
- Penne Pasta: gluten free, regular or whole grain all work well in this recipe.
- Kale: chopped kale provides the best taste and texture.
- Parmesan Cheese: grated parmesan cheese melts and blends perfectly in this pasta dish.
- Sauce ingredients: Butternut squash, tomato paste, heavy cream, salt, pepper and reserved pasta water.
Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
Did you know that butternut squash makes the most perfect, creamy, savory pasta sauce? It is so easy to make! Follow these basic steps and adjust the cream or spices to suit your personal preferences:
- Steam or boil a 10 ounce bag of frozen butternut squash. Alternatively, steam or boil about 2 cups of fresh, cubed butternut squash.
- Add the soft squash to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Add the butternut squash puree to a skillet and add about 1 cup of pasta water, 2 tablespoons heavy cream and tomato paste. Stir the mixture until a creamy sauce forms. If you need to thin the sauce, add additional pasta water or cream.
What does butternut squash sauce taste like?
Butternut squash is one of those great versatile vegetables that can really take on the flavor of whatever you pair it with. In this recipe I paired roasted butternut squash with dried cranberries and pecans and it has a wonderful sweet flavor. However, the flavor is completely different in this recipe.
For this recipe the sauce is creamy and savory. You will taste notes tomato and cream. It is mild in flavor and pairs really well with salty parmesan, kale and browned Italian sausage.
Why do you add pasta water to sauce?
Adding pasta water to sauce is a magical little trick. The starchy water not only adds flavor, and in this case thin the sauce to the perfect consistency. It also helps the sauce to adhere to, and inside the pasta for the best flavor. For this recipe I suggest using about a cup of pasta sauce, but reserve more than that and use as needed.
Tips for the Best Lightened Up Pasta Sauce
- Puree the butternut squash: if you’ve steamed or boiled the squash as directed it should blend easily. However, depending on your blender or food processor add 1-2 tablespoons of liquid to help it blend completely smooth. Remember, a smooth puree makes the best smooth sauce.
- Save the pasta water: Pasta water is a magical little trick. It’s starchy, salty goodness helps to add flavor and achieve the perfect consistency.
- Don’t skip the cream: the heavy cream is used sparingly, but it does help create a delicious savory, creamy flavor!
Other Easy Pasta Dishes
- One Pan Broccoli and Penne: easy side or vegetarian dish.
- The Best Taco Mac: seriously the only taco mac recipe you will ever need.
- Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Mac: one pan and loaded with flavor.
Creamy Butternut Squash Sauce
- (10 ounce) package frozen butternut squash, steamed until soft OR 2 cups cubed fresh butternut squash, steamed or boiled until soft.
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
For the Pasta
- 2 cups dry penne pasta, cooked al dente (1 cup pasta water reserved) I used gluten free Barilla
- 1 pound Italian sausage, browned
- 2 cups fresh kale, chopped
- 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water according to the package directions. Drain the pasta, reserve 1 cup pasta water. Set aside.
- Brown the Italian sausage, drain any grease and set aside.
- To make the pasta sauce steam the butternut squash until soft. Add to a blender and puree until completely smooth (add 1-2 tablespoons of liquid if needed)
- Heat a deep skillet over medium low heat. Add the butternut puree, pasta water, tomato paste and heavy cream. Stir the mixture and heat until smooth. Taste the sauce, add additional cream, or salt and pepper if desired.
- Stir in the cooked pasta, Italian sausage, chopped kale and parmesan. Heat through and add salt and pepper as needed.
See the notes in the post for tips and tricks for the best pasta sauce.
Serving Size:About 1 heaping cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 451Total Fat: 26gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 670mgCarbohydrates: 31.5gFiber: 2.4gSugar: 2.9gProtein: 18.5g