Creamy (vegan!) Butternut Squash Linguine with Fried Sage

Creamy (vegan!) butternut squash linguine with fried sage -

Cookie and I have been visiting the vet three times a week lately. We don’t mind the excursion. The girls behind the desk are fun to be around and Cookie loves the attention. She has quickly become a staff favorite (of course!). It’s also a prime spot for people watching. I always feel like I’m experiencing that 101 Dalmations scene where all of the dogs match their owners, remember that one?

The manly men bring in their 80-pound manly-man breeds who shake their heads like lions. Eccentrically dressed older ladies wait with their dachshunds and shaggy little dogs. A beautiful, elegant blond woman picks up her equally elegant and blond mystery breed. The lady with a high-pitched voice and nervous laugh tells me about her rat terrier. I suppose Cookie and I match, too. I will shamelessly admit that we both have great hair and it doesn’t hurt that I’m always dressed in black or gray.

butternut and sage

During the more dull moments, I’ve spent a fair amount of time flipping through Instagram photos and glancing at the heart worm brochures on the side table. I grabbed the February issue of Bon Appetit before I left for our last appointment so I would have something to read while I waited. I’m glad I did, because I was reminded of the butternut squash carbonara that I had dog-eared earlier.

cooked butternut and linguine

Their recipe called for pancetta and chicken broth, but I knew I could easily make it vegetarian and amp up the flavor with spices. The cooking technique is what really caught my eye—basically, you make a butternut purée while you cook pasta, then marry the two together in a warm pan with the help of some starchy reserved pasta cooking water. Genius, right? It’s even easier to make than the béchamel that I made for my pumpkin fettuccine alfredo.

The best part is that the puréed squash is rich and luxuriously creamy without any cream at all. I also used whole grain pasta, which further prevented the steamroller after-effects of eating a giant bowl of creamy carbs. Make this before the weather warms up! We have a few more weeks to go before everything turns green again.

butternut pureebutternut squash puree with linguineCreamy (vegan!) butternut squash linguine with fried sage recipe - cookieandkate.comSuper creamy (vegan) butternut squash linguine with fried sage -

Creamy (vegan!) Butternut Squash Linguine with Fried Sage
4.7 from 17 reviews
Spiced and creamy (yet cream-less) butternut squash sauce tossed with whole grain linguine. Top with fried sage for a healthy, comforting main dish. Serve with salad or roasted vegetables to further lighten up the meal.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • 2 pound butternut or kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small ½-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes (up to ¼ teaspoon for spicier pasta sauce)
  • Sea salt and/or kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 12 ounces whole grain linguine or fettucine
  • Optional additional garnishes: shaved Parmesan or Pecorino and/or smoked salt
  1. Heat oil in a large (read: 12 inch) skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the sage and toss to coat. Let the sage get crispy before transferring it to a small bowl. Sprinkle it lightly with sea salt and set the bowl aside.
  2. Add squash, onion, garlic and red pepper flakes to skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until squash is soft and liquid is reduced by half, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.
  4. Once the squash mixture is done cooking, remove it from heat and let it cool slightly. Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender. Reserve the skillet. Purée the mixture until smooth (beware of hot steam escaping from the top of the blender), then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Combine pasta, squash purée and ¼ cup cooking liquid in reserved skillet and cook over medium heat, tossing and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
  6. Serve pasta topped with fried sage, more black pepper and shaved Parmesan/Pecorino and/or smoked salt, if desired.
  • Adapted from Bon Appetit's Winter Squash Carbonara with Pancetta and Sage (February 2014).
  • Recipe yields 4 large servings.
  • The squash purée is a killer bisque, which you could thin with vegetable broth if you’d like. You could also stir it into risotto at the end of cooking.
  • Make it vegan: skip the cheese garnish.
  • Make it gluten-free: use gluten-free pasta. Commenter Jenn recommends corn and quinoa blended gluten-free pasta, which is firmer than brown rice pasta.

P.s. I’m late in telling you that Foodie’s latest app, Dinner For Two, is now available for download (for free!) here.


  1. says

    I love the way you describe your trips to the vet – I don’t mind them either! They’re definitely interesting. I love the look of this meal! I’ve made a few pasta dishes with squash, but this looks like a keeper! Have a great weekend :)

  2. says

    Kate this looks amazing! These photos are beautiful and I love the that you used linguine. I can just imagine twirling it around on my fork right now. Soooo so creamy and delicious! I love a vegetarian meal that meat eaters would love as well. Pinned.

    • says

      Hi, I’m sorry I didn’t include the number of servings in the recipe. (Just added them.) The pasta recipe yields enough for at least 4, more if you’re serving it with salad or additional prepared vegetables.

  3. says

    Oh gosh this sounds good! The b-nut is my fave squash by far because it’s so versatile – sweet, savoury, you name it – it always works! I had to laugh about your dogs looking like owners comment, because it is SO true. And about Bon Appetit – I’ve been following them on Twitter for ages but only just started browsing the site – I don’t know what took me so long! Such amazing recipe inspiration over there. Have a great weekend! :)

  4. says

    Just lately I’ve been grabbing old copies of food magazines to read on my morning commute and I love it … dreaming about food before I get to work and have to launch myself into the day. I love the fact that this is healthy comfort food … and so simple, too. I’m pinning this for later!

  5. says

    Woohoo now I know what’s for lunch tomorrow. I just need to buy the squash, but then I have some wilting sage so it makes perfect sense. I mean, sage can’t go to waste. Thanks! I hope Cookie’s fine. Have a nice day :)

  6. says

    That looks wonderful. I am fancying it with spinach too. This is my first visit to your blog. I found you on a top 50 veggie blogs list, but funnily enough I glance down at your next post and realised I repinned it yesterday. Huh! Adding you to my blog list as we speak :)

  7. says

    Cookie is probably one of the few dogs who LIKES going to the vet lol…but I guess she’s gotten used to it!

    This creamy butternut sauce sounds pretty dreamy!

  8. says

    This looks fantastic. I’ll have to make it once I have a blender. (Someday!) It’s wonderful to hear that Cookie’s doing well. I hope she makes a full recovery soon.

  9. says

    Pumpkin or squash and sage is one of my all time favourite combinations. I find it completely irresistible.
    And I love your photos, by the way – it’s not easy to make pasta look as good as it tastes in a picture, but if this taste even half as good as it looks then it’s a pretty damn yummy dish…

  10. says

    Oh this could not be a prettier pasta dish! Thanks to your skills! Lovely colors in the tail-end of winter :) I love the description of pet owners and their look-alikes. I’m sure my 6’3″ husband feels a bit silly when he walks our mini daschund, but he is such a wonderful pet! Aww.

  11. says

    That is so true about dog owners matching their dogs! I remember looking around the class when we took our dog to puppy school and thinking how perfectly each of the owners matched their pups. On another note, this pasta dish not only looks great (how do you manage to make a dish that is essentially one colour look so appetising!?) but it sounds delicious! Will definitely be giving this a go.

    • says

      Right?! Certain dog breeds appeal to certain types of people, it’s true. Thank you for the compliments re: pasta. I have taken a million not-so-appetizing pictures of pasta in the past, but I’m learning!

  12. Tina@TinasChicCorner says

    Omg, I love this idea! It looks so good and I definitely want to try it this weekend! Thanks much for sharing. :)

  13. says

    great recipe and photos! i have a butternut squash lying around, so i’ll try something approachable like this. also: something about fried sage is so luxurious…love that addition. glad that cookie is feeling better and hope you’re settling into your new place happily.

  14. Ariana says

    I have recently become obsessed with squash & pasta or squash & pizza. It’s currently one of my favorite combinations! To save the hassle out of preparing it I pre-cook it in the microwave (stab it like a baked potato and cook on high until it starts to soften, rotating occasionally. Then cut open carefully, watch out for the steam, scoop out seeds and use as desired – I often drizzle with maple syrup and bake until completely done then store/freeze for whatever I want it for – delish!)

    That being said, I can’t wait to try this with the acorn squash sitting on my counter!

    • says

      Ariana, that is such a time saver! Thank you for sharing! Hope you love this recipe. Please let us know how it turns out with acorn squash!

  15. Jenn says

    Made this tonight. Worked fantastic. I did sprinkle pancetta on top since I had some in the freezer and I even sprinkled some applewood smoked salt on top. Great texture and flavor. It’s a comfort food that isn’t that terrible for you.

    Recommend no changes or modifications to this recipe. It executes well.

    • Jenn says

      Oh and also.. I used corn and quinoa blended gluten free pasta with this. Worked fine. You definitely want a firmer GF Pasta – not rice noodles – to support this heavy of a sauce.

    • says

      Jenn, I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe. Thank you for your feedback. I’m amending the recipe to include your gluten-free pasta recommendation.

  16. says

    I have a serious problem with this dish! I made a double serving this evening. I just finnished half of it with zucchini “pasta” . The other serving was supposed to be for tomorrow, but now it is calling at me….I feel full, I cannot eat any more, but oooooh it just tastest too moreish :-) Great recipe! Thanks for sharing it :-) (PS: only change I made was to first fry some mushrooms together with chopped sage, set it aside and then add it to the sauce together with the pasta)

    • says

      Afra, I’m so glad you’re loving the recipe! I’m glad to know that it’s good with zucchini noodles. Mushrooms sound like a terrific addition, too!

  17. says

    I love your Butternut Squash Chili recipe. I’m not even a vegetarian, but I’m excited to make this recipe! Looks so creamy and delicious. I’ve made a butternut squash Mac & Cheese that was amazingly creamy! Might try this with Spaghetti squash. Too much squash??

    • says

      Hey Julie! Glad you love the chili. I’m not sure spaghetti squash would work well in this recipe since it’s so watery—I don’t think it will get creamy like butternut. Haven’t tried it, though!

  18. Kathy says

    Awesome and easy to make. I used quite a bit more sage than called for in your recipe and there was not a morsel left…3 adults gobbled it up! Do like the suggestion above about mushrooms! Really think that’ll bump it up…not that its necessary to do so, but…why not!

  19. says

    This looks amazing. I actually tried to make a baked pasta version of this a while ago and it was horribly under seasoned – but I could tell it had potential. I’m excited to make this, follow your directions and end up with something ten times more delicious!

  20. Claire Burke says

    I just made this last night despite having printed off the recipe weeks ago…and it was so delicious! My picky boyfriend even had a bit and said it “wasn’t bad”. Coming from him that’s a 5-star recommendation!

  21. samantha says

    This was delicious, even with dried sage instead of fresh. I used butternut squash soup stock instead of veg broth and added some nutritional yeast after it was cooked. It was great. My guy recommends trying it with maple syrup too! Thanks for the recipe!

  22. Manda says

    This came out way better than I thought it would. I added a few splashes of heavy cream at the end to add some richness and blend the flavors. This was delicious! I am definitely making it again.

  23. Kari says

    Just made this today for dinner and everyone loved it!! Great use of butternut squash to make the pasta creamy without the cream. Will definitely make again and again and again! :)

  24. says

    This was absolutely delicious! I actually let the squash and vegetable broth sit and simmer covered on the stove all afternoon. Came home from a busy afternoon and simply pureed the squash and tossed it with the pasta. The flavor was excellent and I really appreciate this meatless meal! Thanks Kate!

  25. Jenn says

    Help a newbie out-
    I made this today and my sauce was not creamy. It was full of tiny bits. The taste was still good but the texture was weird with the pasta. Add more moisture? Help.

    • says

      Hey Jenn, I’m sorry your sauce didn’t turn out just right. If there were little bits in it, it sounds like the sauce just didn’t get blended well enough. Possible solutions include blending for a longer period of time, maybe in a better blender. I usually have better luck with my stand blender than my immersion blender, but that’s probably because I have a pretty fancy stand blender. If the sauce is too thick to blend well at first, add a little more broth or water so it can blend well.

  26. says

    I do not have a blender at hand at the moment so my sauce didn’t turn out as creamy as I would have liked – however, just finished the bowl and have to say its really really good! Thank you, this was my very first attempt at marrying squash and pasta :)

  27. Amanda says

    Made this last night for dinner and it was delicious! Even better today for lunch! Everyone especially LOVED the crispy sage garnish. We had a whole discussion about how they should be the next snack rage!! Thanks for a new recipe to add to the collection.

    • says

      Thanks, Tiffany! Funny that you didn’t love the fried sage. The commenter before you loves it so much that she wants to eat fried sage for a snack!

  28. Ashley says

    this sauce is AMAZING!!!! I tripled the red pepper flakes and used about half pasta noodles and half zucchini noodles. This dish is the best replacement for comfort foods!! kind of reminds me of creamy mac and cheese :)

  29. Mia says

    Made this last night (because I’m on a kick with your recipes and mildly obsessed with your blog). SO GOOD. I may try throwing some pine nuts in the blender along with the sauce to make it a little bit nuttier, but it was pretty much perfect.

    Thanks for the recipe!!

  30. Ankeeta says

    How long would you say the sauce lasts for? I’m planning to make it ahead of time. Also, do you think it would make a significant difference if I skipped the sage? Thanks!

  31. Jessica Bush says

    Hi there Kate,
    I just made this for dinner last night and it was wonderful! Thank you for sharing. As a lactose-intolerant vegetarian I don’t get to have “creamy” stuff too often and this was great!

  32. Bev says

    I made this for dinner tonight. A perfect Autumn dinner. I added white beans and kale for extra color and nutrition. Delicious. I will make this again soon.

  33. Michelle says

    This was my first time ever cooking butternut squash. I was really nervous, but it turned out beautifully. This will be a new staple in my diet, seriously. Love love love!

  34. Linda says

    I have fresh sage growing right outside my kitchen and it is the most hardiest of plants. Here it is Halloween and it still thrives even though we have had some hard freezes. I also have aobut 50 butternut squash from my summer garden that are stored out in my garage. I imagine I will be trying this recipe soon along with any others I can find and Pin over the next few weeks.

  35. Deborah says

    So delicious as are all of your recipes Kate. I added coconut milk plus water instead of veggie broth and some Thai chili paste. Loved the fried sage leaves. The perfect meal for a cool fall afternoon.

  36. says

    First time visiting your blog and came across this recipe. I didn’t deviate and it came out awesome! Cream, easy and very flavorful! The only thing i suggest is more sage, it really compliments the sauce. Thanks so much for sharing i love when vegan recipes are easy and delicious!

  37. Kara says

    I made this for dinner this evening and was hands down absolutely fabulous! I love a hearty tomato based spaghetti, but this version has me wanting to forgo it and just stick with this from now on. It is such a hearty dish. The crispy sage……YUMMMMM!

  38. Brooke says

    I made this last night and it was exceptional!! The butternut was so delicious and the flavors blended together beautifully!! I have a whole list of recipes I want to make. My only question is my husband wants meat…. What are the best recipes that you have thT blend with meats or chicken?

    • says

      Brooke, I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner! I’m a vegetarian so it’s kind of hard for me to say which recipes go well with meat. I suspect that most of the salads would go well with chicken or fish. I’ve heard that a lot of meat lovers enjoy my butternut chili, so that might over well as is!

  39. Splashing in Puddles says

    Thanks for another great recipe Kate! This is super tasty& filling without leaving you with that heavy pasta belly feeling. The carnivore hubby really likes it too and he isn’t one to eat squash. The one change I made was to roast the squash in the oven (for an hour on 400) before adding it. I just love the flavor of squash roasted best and thought it would be easier than cutting up the squash while it was raw. It worked great!

    During the work week I make dinners the night before because of my work schedule and because I’m a really slow cook. Even simple dinners seem to take me a long time to make so I like to be able to just heat things up on weeknights. Just in case anyone else is in the same position, for this recipe, I made the sauce last night and then all I had to do tonight was heat it up and toss it with the pasta and pasta water. While the water was boiling I made the sage (oh my gosh don’t skip the sage, it is delicious!) It is a great make ahead meal this way – done in about 20 minutes. Can’t wait to have the leftovers for dinner tomorrow.

  40. Loren says

    Made this last night and my family devoured it! Used some sprinkled bacon on top as well as the sage and it was delicious. Thanks :)

  41. Camille says

    Discovered your blog yesterday and I’m so glad I did.
    I made this recipe for lunch: AMAZING ! I didn’t have sage so instead I added a little bit of baby spinach at the end.
    Thank you !

  42. Amy says

    Made this morning and eaten for lunch and dinner, it was lovely! I pureed half the squash mix and left the rest as gooey chunks.
    Tip for uk readers is that sainsburys sells packs of chopped squash, onion and chilli (it’s called butternut soup mix) mix which is perfect for a lazy cook :-)
    Thanks for the recipe!

  43. aimelle says

    Hi Kate !
    Not having a blender has prevented me from making this wonderful-looking pasta for a long time, but now that we do have one, nothing stands in my way anymore, and i’ll make this as soon as i can (for some reason the boyfriend doesn’t share my passion for all kinds of winter squash, so with each recipe i must convince him that squash season will be over soon and so we HAVE to eat some now, but i’m more than ready to have this conversation again for this pasta’s sake.) I have a question though, because i cook for 2 and am not sure i’ll manage to find a small butternut squash : would the squash purée freeze well ? (the “you could stir it is risotto” nota bene wasn’t lost on me, and i’ll be sure to do just that if it does freeze.)
    Thank you !

      • aimelle says

        I made this last night (and burnt my first batch of sage which was very sad, but i didn’t let it happen to the second batch) and it all turned out perfect ! This sauce is fantastic, thank you for sharing it !

  44. Anna says

    Made it for dinner and we adored it. Haven’t been so wowed by a dish in a long time!
    We have a rescue, too :) Had not heard of two of Cookie’s three breeds, so looked them up. Interesting!

      • Anna says

        Max says hi back. My daughter says Cookie looks like cookies and cream ice cream. But smart. I can’t seem to copy a photo of Max here.
        Tonight we try your black bean and avocado chili. Looking forward to it :)

        • says

          Hope you loved the chili, Anna! Cookie came with her name but I suspect she earned it because she looks like cookies and cream… or because she’s one smart cookie… your daughter is right on point! :)

  45. Nicole says

    This is a fantastic recipe. I made it for a meatless dish for Lent, and we all (including three kids) LOVED it! I failed at frying sage (I have never fried anything before), but I added chopped sage with the broth. Delicious!

  46. Vicky says

    Hi Kate. Planning to make this tonight. Do you know if it’s okay to freeze the sauce minus the sage?

  47. Anastasia says

    I’m giving this two stars because my toddler ate it and my husband’s friend ate most of the leftovers. But my husband and I did not like this at all. The texture reminded us of squash baby food and it didn’t have much of a flavor. It wasn’t disgusting, but it wasn’t good either.

    • says

      I’m so sorry you didn’t love this dish, Anastasia. I wonder if your squash needed more time in the blender and maybe some more salt, too. Bummed that it wasn’t a hit!

  48. Kathryn says

    I am about to make this again tonight. I first made it on New Year’s Eve. My sister and I both thoroughly enjoy it each time. I still haven’t quite gotten the knack of frying the sage, but that’s on me. Sad that I won’t be able to have it again until the fall/winter, but as I’m not a fan of cold, it will be something to look forward to.

  49. Jadzia says

    I made this tonight and it was super tasty!
    My flat mate just finished off a second bowl of it :)
    The sauce itself was a little bland (but I did use water instead of stock so that may be why), but once you add the cheese… Wow! is all I can say :)
    It was creamy and delicious and made all my dreams come true haha :D
    Added some roasted cauliflower which gave it a more diverse texture, I think you could add just about any veg to this and it would be delicious :)

    Thanks for another amazing recipe, perfect score for all the dishes I’ve tried so far- I’m starting to believe that you are magic haha :)

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