Creamy Acorn Squash Pasta is a simple recipe that tastes like a dish from a fine dining restaurant! The recipe features basic ingredients found in most grocery stores and pantries, including bow-tie pasta (farfalle), spinach, sausage, and fresh herbs. Try this comforting pasta dish on a cold Fall or Winter night, and it might become your family's new favorite way to eat acorn squash!
Acorn squash pasta
This cozy Fall and Winter comfort food combines creamy roasted acorn squash sauce together with smoked sausage, spinach, bow-tie pasta, lots of fresh thyme, and red pepper flakes. You can easily make it ahead and assemble it when ready to serve - see the recipe card for details on making it ahead! Which makes it a perfect choice both for busy weeknights or for special occasions. I hope you try this easy-to-make and flavorful recipe and let me know in the comments if you liked it. You never know - it might become one of your family's favorite dishes to make during the chilliest months of the year! And, if you're looking for more acorn squash dinner inspiration, don't miss this tasty sausage stuffed acorn squash or ground beef stuffed acorn squash (Southwestern-style).
Why make it
- Autumn and Winter comfort food. When the nights get chilly, we tend to crave something cozy and comforting. This creamy acorn squash pasta with sausage is a complete meal that will warm you up on a cold night.
- Great recipe for leftover acorn squash. If you bought too much squash or grow your own squash and need more recipe ideas on how to use it - this pasta dish might become one of your favorites!
- Change your mind about acorn squash. If you don't like acorn squash or never tried it, this is a great recipe to start! The creaminess of the sauce really mellows the flavor of the squash. Other ingredients make a perfect flavor combo! I also recently discovered that not all acorn squash are created equal. Some of them are delicious, with a bright yellow-orange flesh color and a perfect texture! Some squashes (usually bigger, overly ripe acorn squash) have a watery texture and unappealing color of the flesh when roasted (dirty brown). If you roasted the acorn squash and don't like it - mash it into a puree and use it for acorn squash pasta! You'll love it!
- Acorn squash is a winter squash with a beautiful yellow-orange color that has a sweet and nutty flavor. It's packed with nutrients and a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It's rich in Vitamin C and a good source of B vitamins. Choose acorn squash that is not too large (small or medium size). By the way, did you know that botanically speaking, acorn squash is considered a fruit (not a vegetable)?!
- Pre-cooked smoked sausage. I used smoked sausage - andouille sausage. You can also use other cooked smoked sausage or cajun sausage. Or, use Italian sausage.
- Bow Tie Pasta. This recipe uses an Italian pasta, called Farfalle, or bow tie pasta. The bow-tie shape of this pasta works very well with the creamy acorn squash sauce. Cook bow-tie pasta al dente for the best texture.
- Greens. I use fresh spinach to add some veggies to this recipe. You can also use frozen spinach - thawed and drained of any liquid. Or, use kale instead.
Variations and substitutions
Creamy acorn squash pasta is a flexible recipe that is easy to adjust to whatever you have available.
- Squash. This recipe will work great with roasted acorn squash or roasted butternut squash. To keep it really simple, you can buy canned pumpkin puree and use that, also!
- Sausage. Use smoked sausage, andouille sausage, and cajun sausage. The key is to use a flavored sausage that has already been pre-cooked. I used pre-cooked andouille sausage in this recipe. You can also use Italian sausage (crumbled or in casings).
- Veggies. A variety of vegetables can be used. Spinach, arugula, and kale work the best. You can also add mushrooms and cherry tomatoes.
- Pasta. This recipe works best with short-cut pasta, such as farfalle (bow-tie), penne, orecchiette, and fusilli. You can also use orzo and gnocchi.
- Garnish. Garnish acorn squash pasta with fresh herbs (such as oregano or thyme), red pepper flakes, and freshly grated cheese, if you like!
- Time-saving tip. I recommend that you roast the acorn squash and puree it in advance. It will save a lot of time in preparing this recipe.
- Cook pasta shells al dente. That's when the pasta texture is at its best. It's especially important if you want to make this ahead.
- Make it meatless by using plant-based sausage, such as the Beyond sausage brand.
- Make it dairy free by using unsweetened coconut milk instead of heavy cream.
How to make it ahead
Most of the steps of this recipe can be done a day or 2 in advance. If you want to prep some of the steps prior to when you're ready to serve, I would do these steps in advance:
- Roast acorn squash in the oven and then mash it into a puree in advance.
- Slice and cook sausage in advance.
- You can even cook the pasta in advance. In this case, make sure you cook it al dente so that it keeps its texture.
- Then, when you are ready to serve, all you have to do is to proceed to the recipe section "Assembly" and go from there!
Because the sauce for acorn squash pasta is made without any cheese, this recipe is easy to store and reheat.
- Fridge. Store acorn squash pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Reheat in the microwave oven. Reheat the refrigerated leftovers in a microwave oven for about 1 minute. Taste and reheat for 30 seconds more, if needed.
- Reheat on the stovetop. You can also reheat this in a large, high-sided skillet on the stovetop on low-medium heat. When using this method, add a small amount of heavy cream, half-and-half, or milk to thin out the sauce when reheating.
What to serve with acorn squash pasta
Because this recipe features a rich and creamy sauce, I recommend serving it with a slice of crusty Italian bread or olive bread, or garlic bread to dip into the luscious creamy sauce. Also, serve a fresh salad - it always goes well with creamy pasta dishes. Here are my favorites:
- Arugula Salad with Apples, Cranberries, Pecans, and Balsamic Dressing
- Cranberry Spinach Salad with Cashews and Goat Cheese and Lemon-Honey Poppy Seed Dressing
- Autumn Salad with Arugula, roasted Butternut Squash, dried Figs, toasted sliced Almonds, and Pomegranate Seeds.
- Simple Spinach Salad with Pine Nuts, Parmesan Cheese
- Arugula Salad with Pears, Apples, and Cashews
Other acorn squash recipes you might like
If you enjoyed this creamy acorn squash pasta, you might like these Fall-inspired dinners:
- Stuffed Acorn Squash with Spinach, Cream Cheese, and Parmesan
- Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Ground Beef Stuffed Acorn Squash (Southwestern-style)
Acorn Squash Pasta
- 1 acorn squash medium
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 8 oz pasta (bow-tie or farfalle)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 12 oz smoked sausage fully cooked (I used andouille sausage)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 oz fresh spinach
- fresh thyme
- salt and pepper
- red pepper flakes
Roast acorn squash
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Prepare the acorn squash. Slice acorn squash in half. Keep fingers away from the knife to avoid injury. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and fleshy strands tangled with the seeds.
- Place acorn squash cut sides up on a baking sheet. Drizzle the cut sides of acorn squashes with olive oil and rub the oil into the squash. Season generously with salt and pepper. Turn the squash over, and place it cut sides down on a baking sheet.
- Roast in the preheated oven at 400 F for 30 minutes. Once the squash is done and slightly cooled, scrape the cooked flesh out of the shells into a medium bowl and mash it with the fork to turn it into a puree.
- While the squash is roasted, proceed with the rest of the recipe.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to the package instructions, usually about 10 minutes. Drain. Proceed with the rest of the recipe while the water is boiling.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, high-sided skillet (such as a cast-iron skillet or stainless steel) on medium heat.
- Slice cooked sausage into coins and add to the skillet.
- Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes on one side, then flip over and cook for about 3 minutes on the other side. Drain extra grease from the skillet.
- To the same skillet with sausage, add 1 cup of acorn squash puree and 1 cup of heavy cream, and half of the fresh thyme (no sprigs, just leaves). Stir. Add spinach. Bring the sauce to a boil on medium heat, reduce to low-medium heat, and stir everything well. Cook for about 3 or more minutes, until spinach wilts.
- Add cooked and drained pasta and stir it in. Top with the remaining fresh thyme and red pepper flakes.
- If you want to make it ahead, I would suggest prepping the following steps a day or 2 in advance: Prep all the steps above the "Assembly" section in advance. This includes roasting the acorn squash and mashing it into a puree, cooking pasta (al dente in this case!), and cooking sausage.
- Then, on the day when you are ready to serve, all you have to do is complete the recipe following the "Assembly" section of the recipe instructions - which should take you under 10 minutes!
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
I'm wondering if I can substitute part of the cream for low fat cream cheese.
Kathy, yes you can use low-fat cream cheese. I would cut it into small chunks and microwave it first (for about 30 seconds) to soften it. Add it together with the acorn squash puree and heat it up, stirring until it melts. Reserve some pasta cooking water and add it 1/4 cup increments if the sauce gets too thick.