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Enjoy a quick and savory vegetarian pasta dish in about half an hour! This fantastic pasta combines roasted delicata squash, caramelized onion and chili in a creamy Parmesan sauce with wilted greens.
This recipe features delicata squash, which is roasted until sweet and caramelized, combined with a chili-infused Parmesan cream sauce, wilted greens and chunky rigatoni pasta to catch all the saucy bits. It’s a delicious, healthy pasta recipe to add to your cooking rotation.
If you’re ready to take your everyday pasta up a notch, this is a quick vegetarian recipe to help switch up the usual pasta night.
About delicata squash
Delicata squash— pronounced DELI-KAH-TA — is a type of winter squash. It’s an elongated shape with beautiful green-striped orange skin. The flavor is mild, sweet, and the texture is pleasant dense (not watery, like some winter squash).
- Delicatas are less stringy than other kinds of hard-skinned squash, and they’re perfect to mix into roasted vegetable salads and pasta dishes, You can find delicata squash during the months of the fall and early winter. Scoop them up when you see them!
About the ingredients
- Delicata squash: One delicata squash weighs around a pound, more or less. If you’re scaling up the recipe to serve 6-8 people, use two delicata squash.
- Pasta: Short, chunky pasta shapes such as rigatoni, shells or pipe rigate are the best types to use in this recipe — they’re bite-size, and capture the sauce perfectly.
- Red onion: You’ll need 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion or shallots.
- Kale: I love to make this dish with sturdy Tuscan (lacinato) kale or curly kale. Spinach, Swiss chard leaves or any sturdy, leafy green will work in this recipe.
- Garlic: Use fresh garlic cloves, grated on a rasp grater or chopped fine.
- Crushed red chili: The heat level in the dish is low-medium with a large pinch (1/2 teaspoon) of chili. Add more or less to taste.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Use your best everyday olive oil.
- Heavy cream: You just need a small amount of cream to “marry” the sauce. Substitute 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water if you want to skip the dairy.
- Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated is best!
Delicata squash has an edible skin
Of all the winter squash, these pretty striped squashes seem to have the most delicate skin. The good news is that delicata squash doesn’t have to be peeled.
The striated green and sunset-yellow skin is tender when cooked and totally edible. There’s no need to peel it. If you like, you can just scrape the skin randomly with a vegetable peeler to remove any blemished spots.
The delicata’s flesh roasts up tender and tastes nutty and lightly sweet, a little less so than your average yam or sweet potato.
How to prepare delicata squash for cooking and roasting
Another good thing about tender-skinned delicata squash is that you don’t have to wrestle with a giant cleaver in order to cut it into pieces, like some of my other favorite hard winter squashes I sometimes use to make creamy pumpkin pasta.
- After slicing the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds with a spoon then slice the squash into chunky pieces.
You’ll love that this pasta is a wholesome, one-dish dinner, especially if you’re vegetarian or craving a meatless meal. Satisfy your pasta craving (a daily one for me), along with a healthy serving of vegetables.
That said, you can add crumbled cook bacon or crisp prosciutto to the pasta when serving for a hit of protein.
- Rigatoni pasta has a nice rugged, blocky shape, which blends perfectly with the pieces of roasted chunky squash and catches the bits of creamy sauce, wilted greens and caramelized onion.
- You could use cute mezze rigatoni pasta in this recipe if you happen to see them in your grocery store (they’re literally regular rigatoni cut in half), as well as penne or shells.
More winter squash recipes:
- Creamy Pumpkin Pasta in Garlic Parmesan Sauce
- Butternut Squash Soup with Orange and Ginger (Dairy-free)
- Harvest Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Chimichurri
30-Minute Delicata Squash Pasta
- 1 (450 g) delicata squash, about 16 ounces
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup sliced shallot or red onion
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 garlic clove, grated or finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon crushed red chili, or 1 crumbled chili de arbol
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 8 ounces (225 g) rigatoni or mezze rigatoni
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) heavy cream
- ¼ cup (25 g) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- 2 big handfuls washed baby greens, such as spinach, kale or arugula
- Heat oven to 425 (220 C) degrees.
- Trim the stem and root end off the squash and slice it in half lengthwise. Scrape a spoon along down the length of the pieces to remove the seeds and strings. Slice each half in half again, then cut into ½-inch wide chunks.
- Put the squash in a large mixing bowl with the olive oil, shallot, garlic, salt and red pepper. Toss to coat, then transfer to a rimmed baking sheet (or mix it up directly on the baking sheet).
- Bake 20-25 minutes, until the squash should is tender and nicely brown. Drizzle the balsamic over the squash as soon as it comes out of the oven and stir around gently with a spatula.
- While the squash is roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the rigatoni until al dente. Before draining the pasta, add the greens to the colander. The brief contact with the boiling pasta water will wilt the greens. If you're using a tender green like arugula, just toss it in after draining the pasta.
- Transfer the pasta and greens back to the pasta cooking pot and stir in the cream and Parmesan.
- Add the squash to the pasta and toss together. Serve hot with additional cheese and chili to your taste.
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- Substitute an equal amount (1/4 cup) of pasta cooking water for the cream, if you prefer.
- Add crumbled cook bacon or crisp prosciutto to the pasta when serving for a hit of protein.
- One delicata squash weighs around a pound, more or less. If you’re scaling up the recipe to serve 6-8 people, use two delicata squash
- The prepared pasta keeps refrigerated for 3-4 days. The pasta will absorb the sauce as it sits, so add a few more drops of cream and/or broth to the pasta when reheating.