Delicata Squash With Pasta and Sage Brown Butter

Delicata Squash With Pasta and Sage Brown Butter

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Last summer, the sweet lady at the local farm stand gave us a delicata squash to try. We had never seen one much less knew what to do with it, but she raved about it so much we had to give it a try. That’s when this recipe for delicata squash with pasta and sage brown butter was born.

In this pasta dish, sauteed delicata squash, and sage brown butter are tossed with pasta and toasted bread crumbs that give it a delicately crispy fried texture. The delicata squash pasta is served with fresh parmesan shaved on top and crispy fried sage leaves.

This pasta dish comes together with such a melody of fresh savoriness. Let’s make some for Meatless Monday!

delicata squash on cutting board with knife

What is Delicata Squash?

A delicata is an oblong-shaped orange-yellow squash with green or orange pinstripes. This vegetable is a variety of winter squash, even though it is from the same family as summer yellow squash and zucchini. 

It gets the name “delicata” because of its delicate skin or rind. The skin is tender enough to eat unlike that of butternut squash which is almost woody in texture.

This squash is also known as a “sweet potato squash”, “peanut squash” or “Bohemian squash”.

What Does A Delicata Squash Taste Like?

Delicious!! This variety of squash has a nutty sweet taste like sweet potatoes or pumpkin. 

What to Look For and When To Find Delicata

  • Delicata squash is available from late summer through early winter. When stored properly, they can be kept from 3 to 6 months in a cool dark place.
  • Choose squash with smooth unblemished skin feel firm, especially near the stem ends. 
  • Choose squash that are similar in shape and size, so that they cook evenly and consistently. 
delicata in skillet

What If I Can’t Find Delicata Squash? Can I substitute it with something else?

Bummer… But don’t worry! If you cannot find delicata, you can substitute it with any of the following vegetables:

  • Acorn squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Butternut squash
cut delicata squash

How To Prepare the Squash For This Recipe

Despite the way they look, delicata are easy to cut! In fact, they are easier to work with than other winter squash. 

Follow these three easy steps:

  • Cut the delicata squash in half lengthwise.
  • Use a spoon to scoop and scrape out the seeds on both sides.
  • Place the squash cut side down and slice into ¼-inch half-moons. Repeat for the other half.

That’s it!

delicata butter sage and bread crumbs

Ingredients To Make This Delicata Squash Pasta

Butter: unsalted is best so you control the sodium in this dish. Do not use margarine or any butter substitutes.

Sage: Fresh sage leaves are a must for this dish. Yes, they tend to be very strong in the raw. However, frying a strong herb mellows the flavor. Fried sage is crumbled over a dish to heighten flavor and boy does it ever! 

Breadcrumbs: Use store-bought in a can. The soft gentle bits of toasted bread coat the pasta with flavor and texture. It’s almost like the pasta was fried without a significant change in texture. For a crunchier bite, you can use panko bread crumbs, but I think the regular bread crumbs go better with the pasta.

Delicata Squash: The star ingredient! This squash is velvety smooth in texture with a nutty sweet taste.

Salt and Pepper: Use caution when adding salt. Remember there is salt in the pasta, pasta water, and in the cheese when serving.

Pasta: use any pasta you want. There is no rule when it comes to pasta.

Pasta Water: Don’t forget to reserve the pasta water. This is important because the pasta water will have starch in it to help for the sauce that brings this dish altogether.

Cheese: The parmesan cheese gives this nutty pasta dish a nice balance. For best results use freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. 

ingredients to make recipe

How To Make Delicata Squash With Pasta With Brown-Butter Sauce

Prepare the Brown Butter and Fry the Sage

  1. Line a plate with paper towels. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Carefully swirl the butter around in the skillet. Cook until the butter starts to turn brown and the white foam clears. It will begin to have a sweet caramel-like nutty smell; about 2 to 3 minutes. 
  3. Drop the sage leaves into the butter scattering them around so they are spaced evenly around the pan. (Use caution as the fresh leaves will spatter as they cook.) Fry the sage until the leaves are crisp; about 15 to 20 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat. 
  4. Use a pair of tongs or a slotted spoon t0 transfer the sage to the plate with paper towels to drain. 
  5. Pour the brown butter, into a bowl, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the skillet. Set aside.
sage toasted bread crumbs

Toast the breadcrumbs

  1. Add the bread crumbs to the same skillet. Crumble up 4 or 5 of the cooled sage leaves and add them into the skillet.
  2. Cook the bread crumbs until they are toasted; about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer the breadcrumbs and sage to a plate.
delicata squash and butter

Cook the Squash & the Pasta

  1. Add the squash and about 3 tablespoons of the reserved brown butter to the same skillet over medium heat. Cook stirring often until squash starts to brown; about 5 minutes. This will give the squash a nutty buttery taste and bring out the natural sweetness of the squash.
  2. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste. Pour in ½ cup water, then cover the skillet and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the squash softens a little. Then remove the lid. Continue to cook stirring constantly until the liquid evaporates and the squash is tender and caramelized; about 3 to 5 minutes more.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling heavily salted water, per package instructions.
    Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining!
delicata squash and pasta in skillet

Combine

  1. Toss the cooked squash with the remaining brown butter until evenly coated. Then add about ¼ cup pasta water.
  2. Simmer for about a minute until a thin sauce forms. Toss the pasta in the skillet with the squash.
  3. Add more pasta water, as needed, to coat the pasta. The pasta water helps loosen up the noodles and keeps them from sticking together. Remove the skillet from the heat. Toss with half of the sage leaves.
delicata squash pasta on plates

Serving

  1. Divide the pasta among serving dishes.
  2. Top with bread crumbs, sage, and as much shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano as you desire.

Other Meatless Monday Pasta Dishes

delicata pasta with mountain view

It made us fall head over heels in love with delicata and we cannot wait to get more!

delicata squash and butter with pasta and sage butter
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Delicata Squash With Pasta and Sage-Brown Butter

Sauteed delicata with sage brown butter, tossed with pasta and toasted bread crumbs. Delicata squash pasta is served with parm and fried sage.
Course dinner
Cuisine Meatless Monday, Vegetarian
Keyword Brown Butter, Delicata, Pasta, sage
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 650kcal

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter sliced into tablespoons (1 stick), divided
  • 15 fresh sage leaves
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs plain
  • 2 medium delicata squash (about 1 ¾ pound total), halved lengthwise, seeded, sliced crosswise into ¼-inch thick half-moons.
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 12 ounces spaghetti or pasta of choice
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano shaved

Instructions

Prepare the Brown Butter and Fry the Sage

  • Line a plate with paper towels. Set aside.
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Carefully swirl the butter around in the skillet. Cook until the butter starts to turn brown and the white foam clears. It will begin to have a sweet caramel-like nutty smell; about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Drop the sage leaves into the butter scattering them around so they are spaced evenly around the pan. (Use caution as the fresh leaves will spatter as they cook.) Fry the sage until the leaves are crisp; about 15 to 20 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat.
  • Use a pair of tongs or a slotted spoon t0 transfer the sage to the plate with paper towels to drain.
  • Pour the brown butter, into a bowl, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the skillet. Set aside.

Toast the breadcrumbs

  • Add the bread crumbs to the same skillet. Crumble up 4 or 5 of the cooled sage leaves and add them into the skillet. Cook the bread crumbs until they are toasted; about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer the breadcrumbs and sage to a plate.
  • Cook the Squash & the Pasta
  • Add the squash and about 3 tablespoons of the reserved brown butter to the same skillet over medium heat. Cook stirring often until squash starts to brown; about 5 minutes. This will give the squash a nutty buttery taste and bring out the natural sweetness of the squash.
  • Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste. Pour in ½ cup water, then cover the skillet and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the squash softens a little. Then remove the lid. Continue to cook stirring constantly until the liquid evaporates and the squash is tender and caramelized; about 3 to 5 minutes more.
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling heavily salted water, per package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining!

Combine

  • Toss the cooked squash with the remaining brown butter until evenly coated. Then add about ¼ cup pasta water. Simmer for about a minute until a thin sauce forms. Toss the pasta in the skillet with the squash. Add more pasta water, as needed, to coat the pasta. The pasta water helps loosen up the noodles and keeps them from sticking together. Remove the skillet from the heat. Toss with half of the sage leaves.

Serve

  • Divide the pasta among serving dishes. Top with bread crumbs, sage, and as much shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano as you desire.

Notes

What to Look For and When To Find Delicata:
  • Delicata squash is available from late summer through early winter and if stored properly can be kept from 3 to 6 months in a cool dark place.
  • Choose squash with smooth unblemished skin feel firm, especially near the stem ends. 
  • Choose squash that are similar in shape and size, so that they cook evenly and consistently. 
Substitute Delicata with any of the following vegetables:
  • Acorn squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Butternut squash

Nutrition

Calories: 650kcal | Carbohydrates: 93g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 116mg | Potassium: 1016mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 3805IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 3mg
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