Skip to Content

pumpkin pasta with brown butter sauce

Pumpkin pasta with a brown butter sauce, flavoured with smoked pancetta, thyme and sage. As Autumn approaches this wonderfully comforting bowl of pasta hits the spot.

Pumpkin pasta is one of my favourite bowls of pasta. There is something very warming and moreish about pumpkin and it works beautifully in a pasta sauce made with brown butter.

You barely reach the end of the Summer holiday’s without Michelle 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!

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • The perfect balance of flavours, smoked pancetta and the fresh herbal flavours of garlic, thyme and sage work really well when paired with pumpkin.
  • Feeding a crowd? No problem, double or treble this recipe to cater for larger numbers.
  • For a gluten free dish replace regular pasta with a gluten free pasta.

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.

Once cooked brown butter can be cooled and placed in an airtight container before being stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Brown butter is really simple to make, you just need to ensure you don’t take it too far and burn the butter. In the recipe steps below we show you how to make brown butter.

How to make pumpkin pasta with brown butter sauce:

  • Preheat the oven to 200CFan/180C.
  • Dice the pumpkin/squash into small, bite-sized pieces and place on a non-stick roasting tray. Season with salt and pepper, add the whole thyme sprigs and drizzle over the olive oil. Give everything a good stir to combine.
  • Place the tray in the oven and roast the pumpkin/squash for 30 minutes, giving the tray a shake half way through. After 30 minutes the pumpkin will have softened but still retain a bit of bite. Discard the thyme springs and set the squash aside until the sauce is made.

How to make brown butter?

Butter slowly melting and cooking to turn it brown.
  • Melt the butter slowly in a heavy based saucepan over a medium/low heat and allow the butter to darken to a rich brown colour. This process will take a little time.
  • The butter will begin to foam and turn from yellow to a toasted brown colour and have a nutty aroma.
  • This process takes time, swirl the pan occasionally to ensure the butter cooks evenly.
Butter cooked until frothy and at a browned butter stage.
  • Take care not to blacken and burn the butter!
  • Once brown, take the butter off the heat and pass through a fine sieve to strain off any sediment.

Finishing the pumpkin pasta sauce:

  • Place a large saucepan of salted boiling water on the hob and cook the pasta al-dente 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.
  • Now add the brown butter to the pan.
  • Add the diced shallot and saute in the butter over a medium heat for 5 minutes. The shallot should soften but not colour.
  • Add the pancetta back into the pan along with the roasted squash and the crushed garlic, stir for 3 minutes.
  • Push all the ingredients to the side of the pan and place the whole sage leaves into the butter in the middle.
  • Saute the leaves until crisp and then remove from the pan and discard.
  • Stir the cooked pasta through the butter sauce, along with a ladle of the cooking water to thicken the sauce.
  • Adjust the seasoning to taste and serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan.

Why roast pumpkin?

Roasting any vegetable brings out a real depth of flavour, carmelising the vegetable and highlighting the natural sweetness. Taking time to roast the squash with the olive oil and thyme really intensifies the flavour of the squash and makes a huge difference to the finished dish.

It doesn’t take much more time to roast the pumpkin than it would cooking it in a pan on the stove, but the difference in flavour is notable!

3 pumpkins, a variety of sizes, one bright orange, one white and orange and the other pale green with dark green markings, all sat together on a mottled dark green surface.

Recipe substitutions and variations:

  • Pumpkin or butternut 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 roast pumpkin pasta dish all year round.
  • Fresh Herbs: the pumpkin is roasted with thyme, garlic is used in the pasta sauce, then the sauce is infused with sage. These three 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.
  • Smoked Pancetta: flavours the pasta sauce. You can also use smoked streaky bacon (cut into small strips) or smoked bacon lardons.
  • Unsalted Butter: I use unsalted butter as I like to add the seasoning to the finished pasta sauce. However, you can also use salted butter to make brown butter.
  • Banana Shallots: have a mellow onion flavour. You can substitute with red onion, spring onions or even a brown onion.
  • Dried Pasta: use any shape of pasta that you enjoy eating. For gluten free diets, substitute a gluten free pasta.
  • Parmesan Cheese: is grated over the finished dish. You can substitute with Pecorino Romano or Grana Padano.
A lovely warming bowl of pasta with a browned butter, pumpkin and bacon sauce.

How to adapt the recipe for Vegetarian diners?

This roast 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 cheese is not vegetarian as it contains animal rennet.

Can I pumpkin pasta be made ahead?

I don’t recommend making the entire dish ahead of time. However, there are certainly elements that you can prepare in advance, ready to assemble just before eating.

  1. Roast the pumpkin then allow it to cool before covering and storing in the fridge. Worth mentioning that the pumpkin may dry out a little.
  2. Prepare the shallots and garlic and place in a covered bowl in the fridge.
  3. Cook the pancetta but leave it in the pan as you want all the cooking juices to infuse flavour into the pasta sauce.
  4. Prepare the brown butter earlier in the day, or even the week before! Cool the butter and place in the fridge until you are ready to start cooking.

Useful hints and tips:

  1. Take time preparing the brown butter! Don’t leave the butter unattended, you don’t want it burning.
  2. Why not make extra brown butter? Once cooled, brown butter can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. I like to make a double batch, use half in the pasta and save the other half to make this dish again the following week.
  3. Make this roast pumpkin pasta sauce in the same pan as you cook the smoked pancetta, you don’t want to loose any of those smoky flavours.
  4. Feeding a crowd? No problem, double or treble this recipe as required.
  5. Vegetarian: omit the smoked pancetta from the pumpkin pasta sauce and replace the grated Parmesan cheese with a suitable vegetarian alternative.
  6. For Coeliacs or those following a gluten free diet replace regular pasta with a gluten free pasta instead.
  7. Allergy advice: gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soya free and nut free. For comprehensive and detailed allergy advice go to Allergy UK.

Pin the recipe:

A pinterest image for browned butter pumpkin pasta.

Additional recipe suggestions:

If you like this recipe then try some of other simple recipes:

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

Pumpkin pasta with a brown butter sauce, flavoured with smoked pancetta, thyme and sage. As Autumn approaches this wonderfully comforting bowl of pasta hits the spot.
5 from 11 votes
Print Pin Text Save
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 778kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 small pumpkin or butternut squash (peeled and cubed into bite-sized pieces)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 300 g dried pasta
  • 150 g smoked pancetta (diced)
  • 3 banana shallots (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 5 whole sage leaves
  • salt & pepper
  • grated parmesan (to serve)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 200CFan/180C.
  • Dice the pumpkin/squash into small, bite-sized pieces and place on a non-stick roasting tray. Season with salt and pepper, add the whole thyme sprigs and drizzle over the olive oil. Give everything a good stir to combine.
  • Place the tray in the oven and roast the pumpkin/squash for 30 minutes, giving the tray a shake half way through. After 30 minutes the pumpkin will have softened but still retain a bit of bite. Discard the thyme springs and set the squash aside until the sauce is made.
  • Melt the butter slowly in a heavy based saucepan over a medium/low heat and allow the butter to darken to a rich brown colour. This process will take a little time.
  • The butter will begin to foam and turn from yellow to a toasted brown colour and have a nutty aroma. This process takes time, swirl the pan occasionally to ensure the butter cooks evenly.
  • Take care not to blacken and burn the butter! Once brown, 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 the pasta al-dente 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. The shallot should soften but not colour.
  • Add the pancetta back into the pan along with the roasted squash and the crushed garlic, stir for 3 minutes. Push all the ingredients to the side of the pan and place the whole sage leaves into the butter in the middle. Saute the leaves until crisp and then remove from the pan and discard.
  • Stir the cooked pasta through the butter sauce, along with a ladle of the cooking water to thicken the sauce. Adjust the seasoning to taste and serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan.

Notes

This recipe uses smoked pancetta to add flavour to the dish. However, if you are serving vegetarian diners, simply leave the pancetta out altogether.
Nutrition Facts
Pumpkin Pasta with Brown Butter Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 778 Calories from Fat 396
% Daily Value*
Fat 44g68%
Saturated Fat 19g119%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 17g
Cholesterol 79mg26%
Sodium 266mg12%
Potassium 981mg28%
Carbohydrates 82g27%
Fiber 7g29%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 17g34%
Vitamin A 20606IU412%
Vitamin C 43mg52%
Calcium 127mg13%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

• Please note that the nutrition information provided above is approximate and meant as a guideline only •

Course : Main Course
Cuisine : Italian
Keyword : how to make brown butter, pasta, pumpkin, pumpkin pasta sauce, pumpkin poasta sauce no cream, roast pumpkin pasta
Tried this recipe? We’d love to see your photos!Mention @lostinf00d or tag #lostinfood!
Share on Facebook

This recipe has been shared to CookBlogShare, click on the link to find recipes by fellow food bloggers.

Recipe Rating




Chloe Edges

Tuesday 19th of October 2021

Oh heck yes baby, this is gorgeous!

Lesley

Tuesday 19th of October 2021

Thank you Chloe, it's a very moreish bowl of pasta.

Nickki

Monday 18th of October 2021

This is right up my street - perfect Autumnal comfort food!

Lesley

Tuesday 19th of October 2021

Thank you Nickki this is indeed comfort food in pumpkin form.

Eb Gargano | Easy Peasy Foodie

Monday 18th of October 2021

YES PLEASE - I love everything about this dish! Eb :-)

Lesley

Tuesday 19th of October 2021

Thank you Eb, it's such a simple but delicious bowl of pasta.

Corina Blum

Wednesday 13th of October 2021

These flavours are just perfect for autumn! I really wish my family liked pumpkin as much as I do as it's definitely the kind of meal I'd love to make right now.

Lesley

Wednesday 13th of October 2021

Thank you Corina, am I totally get you. Sadly, I too am a far bigger fan of pumpkin than the rest of my family.

Janice

Wednesday 13th of October 2021

Such a great way to use pumpkin, this pasta looks divine! Pumpkins are not used in cooking in the UK nearly enough and they are so versatile. The pancetta and the brown butter sauce are making me drool!

Lesley

Wednesday 13th of October 2021

Thank you Janice, I don't think we use pumpkin and squash nearly enough in cooking in the UK but I love it in a whole variety of both sweet and savoury dishes as it's so versatile.