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30-Minute Delicata Squash Pasta

4.64 from 61 votes

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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.

Rigatoni pasta in a serving pan with delicata squash sauce, kale and cheese.

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!
Ingredients laid out on a surface, with a delicata squash, bowl of kale leaves, sliced red onion, rigatoni pasta and dishes of grated cheese and crushed red pepper.

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 with roasted squash, kale and parmesan cheese in a gray serving bowl.

Types of short pasta

  • 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:

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Rigatoni pasta in a serving pan with delicata squash sauce, kale and cheese.

30-Minute Delicata Squash Pasta

Karen Tedesco
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.
Print Pin
4.64 from 61 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Pasta
Cuisine Vegetarian
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (450 g) delicata squash, about 16 ounces
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup sliced shallot or red onion
  • 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
  • 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

Instructions 

  • Heat oven to 425 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.
  • Add olive oil, salt, shallot, garlic and chili to the squash and toss together. Transfer the squash to a large, ovenproof skillet or small rimmed sheet pan in a single layer. Note: For less clean-up, toss the squash directly on the pan instead of using a bowl.
  • 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.
Recipe updated September 2022

Nutrition

Calories: 411kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 407mg | Potassium: 614mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1849IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 140mg | Iron: 2mg
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Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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27 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My wife and I got some delicata squash from our CSA this week. We were looking for a new recipe to try with them. We did a google search for recipes and found this. We had almost every ingredient in the house. What a WINNER. WE absolutely loved it. We did decide to double the amount of squash in the dish. We did not double the other ingredients. We were not overwhelmed having more squash in the dish. My wife put a photo and comments on Facebook and Instagram.

    1. Spencer, that’s fantastic! I can’t seem to get enough delicata squash:)) So glad you enjoyed the pasta!

  2. 5 stars
    Made this tonight since I had some delicata and kale from my CSA. Cooked the kale in oil and garlic first, then used what I had for the sauce–heavy cream, some Italian 4 cheese, and then a bit of Gouda. It was excellent, and my 8 y/o even gobbled it up!

  3. Michelle D Macey says:

    5 stars
    This is so, so good. My daughter has been impatiently waiting for delicata season to roll around again, but now she is away at college. I’m guessing this wouldn’t freeze that well for her to keep some on hand in her dorm…?

    1. Yes, you can freeze it! I recommend adding a little vegetable or chicken broth (1/4 cup) when reheating each portion as the sauce will thicken.

      1. Michelle Macey says:

        Awesome! She will be really excited. Thanks!

  4. 5 stars
    YUM! found this from a quick google search because I had a delicata squash waiting to be used, and already had the other ingredients on hand. It was so easy to make and delicious! Curious how this would taste with nutmeg instead of chili pepper flakes…. is so good as written, but could be a good, different flavor.

  5. 5 stars
    This dish sent everyone over the moon! I had to make some adjustments due to food allergies. But it was a huge hit! It will now be my choice for Thanksgiving EVE when we do a autumnal something but with pasta. Thank you! Cheers!

  6. 5 stars
    Oh my gosh! I found this recipe because i had extra delicata squash. I still have extra and can’t wait to make it again! I added sliced portobello mushrooms in the oven When there were about 12 minutes left. The dish wad perfection!!!

  7. 5 stars
    This was absolutely amazing. A big hit with my family – I doubled the recipe and used extra garlic and cream. Soooooooo good!!

  8. didnt have heavy cream on hand, so I used goat cheese with some milk. Also added some left over grilled chicken. Delicious !!

  9. Googled “delicata squash pasta” and what came up first? YAY! Making this tomorrow, delicata is my FAVORITE squash ever and they are starting to show up at the Farmer’s Markets! XOXO

  10. I am making a variation of this reciepe for the restaurant that I work in tonight. Thank you for the inspiration

  11. Glad to see you back in the kitchen and blogging! I despise the whole packing and unpacking business but at least it does give you a reason to do some “spring” cleaning and eliminate the junk.

  12. Unpacking is infinitely worse than the actual move, but ending a organization with this beauty might make it a little better. Look so delicious!

  13. I always dread moving, and unpacking even more so. It’s always nice when you can finally find your rhythm in a new kitchen. I’m so glad you’re back to blogging again! 🙂

    1. You said it – dreadful is the word. These past few months have been among the most challenging of my life. I’m feeling grateful to be back! Thanks for saying hello Laura.

  14. Love the sound of this recipe (and beautiful pix, by the way)!