Pumpkin pasta with a brown butter sauce, flavoured with thyme and sage. As Autumn approached this wonderfully comforting bowl of pasta hits the spot.
Pumpkin pasta is one of my favourite ways to eat a bowl of pasta. There is something very warming and moreish about pumpkin and it works beautifully in a pasta sauce.
I used to make versions for my children when they were weaning and found that I’d happily eat it myself, albeit with some seasoning! However the sauce we have here is more adult, pairing pumpkin with fresh herbs and a nutty butter.
You barely each the end of the Summer holiday’s without my Canadian buddy talking pumpkin. As someone who loves my garden and the Summer months, I do my best to ignore her. By September I’ve had it, Indian Summer or not! Autumn is upon us and “Fall” is her favourite time of year!
With this in mind we decided to create a new pumpkin recipe for the blog, although we’ve used butternut squash as it was all we could get our hands on. We also wanted to pair it with a rich brown butter, wonderfully nutty and just right for this time of year. We hope you enjoy this recipe, perfect for Autumn, or Fall if you’re Canadian!
What is brown butter?
Brown butter, or to use the French terminology, beurre noisette, is made by cooking unsalted butter over a low heat for long enough to reduce any water in the butter and turn the milk solids a brown colour. This “brown” butter has a lovely toasted, nutty flavour. The flavour intensifies during the cooking process, making it an ideal base for this simple pasta sauce.
How to make brown butter?
In saucepan melt the butter over a medium heat and allow the butter to darken to a rich brown colour but not blacken, you don’t want to burn the butter. This takes time and you should swirl the pan occasionally to ensure the butter cooks evenly. The butter will begin to foam and turn from yellow to the toasted brown colour you are looking for, it will have a nutty aroma. Take the butter off the heat and pass through a fine sieve to strain off any sediment.
Pumpkin & squash:
Any variety of pumpkin will work in this dish, so use what you can find in your local shops and supermarkets. You can also use butternut squash which is often easier to buy than pumpkin. I find butternut squash is something I can buy all year round, whereas pumpkin is only available when in season. Using butternut squash means I can enjoy this pumpkin pasta dish all year round.
The pumpkin is roasted with fresh thyme and the sauce is finished with fresh sage leaves. Both these herbs work beautifully with both the pumpkin and the pancetta. However, if you don’t like, say the sage, then substitute it in the sauce with more fresh thyme leaves instead.
This pumpkin pasta recipe uses smoked pancetta cubes, however you could easily replace this with smoked streaky bacon instead. Simply cut into small pieces before frying.
How to adapt the recipe for Vegetarian diners?
This pumpkin pasta recipe is easily adapted for Vegetarian diners. Simply omit the smoked pancetta from the dish. Also ensure that the cheese you grate over the top is vegetarian, parmesan is not as it contains animal rennet.
Can I prepare this dish ahead of time?
As is the case with many vegetable based dishes, the pumpkin is best cooked fresh when you are ready to cook and enjoy the dish. However, that is not to say that you can’t roast the pumpkin earlier in the day and reheat later. Just be aware that the pumpkin will dry out if left to sit.
You can certainly prepare the brown butter element of this pumpkin pasta dish ahead of time. All you would then need do is complete the remainder of the dish, adding the brown butter when required.
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Looking for inspiration for feeding the family mid week, then take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Family Dinners. Full of useful hints, tips and recipes.
Pumpkin Pasta with Brown Butter Sauce
- 1 small pumpkin or butternut squash (peeled and cubed into bite-sized pieces)
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 150 g unsalted butter
- 300 g dried pasta
- 200 g smoked pancetta (diced)
- 3 banana shallots (finely chopped)
- 2-3 cloves of garlic (crushed)
- 5 whole sage leaves
- grated parmesan (to serve)
- Cube the butternut squash into bite-sized pieces and place in a non-stick roasting tray, season with salt and pepper, add the whole thyme sprigs and coat with olive oil. Place in a pre-heated oven at 200CFan and roast the squash for 30 minutes until softened but still with a bite. Remove the thyme springs and set aside until the sauce is made.
- In saucepan melt the butter over a medium heat and allow the butter to darken to a rich brown colour but not blacken, you don't want to burn the butter. This takes time and you should swirl the pan occasionally to ensure the butter cooks evenly. The butter will begin to foam and turn from yellow to the toasted brown colour you are looking for, it will have a nutty aroma. Take the butter off the heat and pass through a fine sieve to strain off any sediment.
- Place a large saucepan of salted boiling water on the hob and cook your pasta as per the instructions on the packet. Once cooked drain and reserve some of the cooking liquor for use in the sauce later.
- In a large pan dry fry the pancetta and once crisp set aside onto a plate before adding the brown butter to the pan. Add the diced shallot and saute in the butter over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the pancetta back into the pan along with the roasted squash and the crushed garlic, stir for 3 minutes then push all the ingredients to the side of the pan and place the whole sage leaves into the butter in the middle. Saute till crisp and then remove from the pan.
- Stir the cooked pasta through the sauce, along with a ladle or two of the cooking liquor to thicken the sauce and adjust the seasoning as prefered. Serve immediately with grated parmesan.
• Please note that the nutrition information provided above is approximate and meant as a guideline only •