I'm on a butternut squash kick and loving it! If you saw my previous post on butternut squash rosti with fried eggs, you'll know that I'm on a mission to turn my husband into a squash lover. Well, I'm continuing that mission today with rigatoni with butternut squash and spicy sausage. When in doubt, just throw everything in a pasta dish, right? I gotta say, even though I made this for my husband, I was very excited about it myself. This is the winter pasta I want on repeat. Perfectly al dente rigatoni tossed with morsels of spicy sausage, sweet and creamy butternut squash, swiss chard, red chili flakes, and all the parmesan. I'll skip to the end and tell you straight out, it was a winner.
Rigatoni with Butternut Squash and Spicy Sausage
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cups butternut squash peeled and diced
- 1 small red onion diced
- 12 ounces spicy Italian sausage casings removed
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 bunch swiss chard thick stems removed, chopped
- 1 tsp red chili flakes
- salt and pepper
- 8 ounces rigatoni
- ¼ cup creme fraiche
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan plus extra
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the chopped butternut squash and saute until lightly browned, about 6-7 minutes. The butternut squash should be getting tender.
- Add the chopped red onion and saute until the onions are tender, about 4 minutes. Add the sausage, breaking it up into smaller chunks. Saute until the sausage is browned, about 3 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic, chopped swiss chard, and 1 tsp red chili flakes to the sausage mixture. Continue to cook until the chard is wilted, another 3 minutes. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and keep warm.
- While the vegetables and sausage are cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the rigatoni until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving ¼ cup of the pasta water.
- Immediately add the cooked rigatoni to the sausage mixture along with ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water, ¼ cup creme fraiche, and ⅓ cup grated parmesan. Stir to coat the pasta in the sauce and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Season the pasta with salt and pepper. Sprinkle extra parmesan on top and serve immediately.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
This rigatoni with butternut squash and spicy sausage has it all. Everything from the vegetables to the protein to the noodles just works magically together. I personally love rigatoni for this dish because the ridges on the pasta pick up all of the sauce. However, you can swap out the rigatoni for penne which is basically just a skinnier version.
As far as pasta dishes go, I have to say this is one of my easier recipes. You just have to saute the vegetables and sausage and add the pasta. Pretty doable, right?
First, start by cooking the butternut squash. We're going to cook the squash just until they're lightly browned and starting to get tender. They will continue to cook with the other ingredients so don't worry about getting them fully tender. In fact, I would discourage cooking them all the way because, by the time the other ingredients are done, the squash will turn into mush.
Add the red onions and cook until they are tender and softened. Next, add the crumbled spicy Italian sausage and cook until browned. You can substitute the spicy sausage for mild sausage or really any other sausage you prefer! Apple chicken sausage would work beautifully as well, adding another touch of fall to the pasta.
Finish the sausage by adding the swiss chard, garlic, and red chili flakes. While you're sauteing the vegetables, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles.
Whenever you make pasta, make sure to save some of the pasta water. It binds the sauce with the noodles and completes the dish. Toss the rigatoni with the remaining ingredients including the creme fraiche and grated parmesan. The creme fraiche just adds a touch of creaminess to the pasta but you can also add the same amount of heavy cream instead. Season with salt and pepper and you're done!
This rigatoni with butternut squash and spicy sausage is now officially my new favorite winter pasta. The butternut squash breaks down and turns into a sauce when combined with the creme fraiche. It just works so perfectly with the wilted chard and spicy sausage. Delicious all around and yes, my husband also loved it!
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