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Butternut Squash Penne with Toasted Pecans

Butternut Squash Penne with pecans #Vegetarian

Hello food lovers!

With the bounty (or overload) of fall harvest vegetables some of us have going on, I put myself to work this week to create a meal with butternut squash.

I get that squash can be an acquired taste.  It wasn’t too long ago, I wouldn’t eat butternut squash soup, and now I love it!

After many searches on good ‘ol Pinterest (you can follow me here), I was only finding weird stuff, bizarre ingredients, or things I just didn’t have on hand. So I found one recipe, I kinda-sort-of followed, but then completely abandoned it and designed my own.

So here it is, a hearty pasta dish perfect for warming you up on a crisp Autumn evening.

A note to my nutrition clients or those watching carb in take… although, I always use a healthier grain, enjoying this with a beautiful side salad will help to reduce the carb load.  Each time you make this, you may end up with more or less vegetables. That’s ok! Feel free to add more veggies than called for or reduce the penne. Even cut the pasta in half and replace it with homemade zucchini noodles. Carbs are not bad – it’s the kind and amount that matter, and of course, it’s about balance!

Butternut Squash Penne with Toasted Pecans
Recipe type: Pasta
  • ½ cup pecans toasted and cut in half
  • 1 tbsp of avocado oil or olive oil
  • 6 cups diced butternut squash - around ½ inch
  • 12 oz of crimini mushrooms - sliced thick (2 packages)
  • ½ large red onion - diced
  • 2 cloves garlic - pressed
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ground pepper to taste
  • 3 cups of spinach - roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp nutmeg or to taste
  • 2 cups Penne - quinoa blend, whole grain
  • ½ cup of feta cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  1. Cut the pecans in half or use pre cut ones. Toast on low heat in a small frying pan until they begin to brown. Do not burn. Set aside when done.
  2. Wash and prep the squash for cutting. Cut the bottom of the squash flat to give it a stable surface. Cut the squash in half. Scoop out all the seeds and innards. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin off the squash. Dice to about ½ inch pieces. Set aside.
  3. Cut the mushrooms and onions.
  4. In a large frying pan (I used one with high sides), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, onions, and garlic. Saute until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are beginning to brown, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and set aside.
  5. While the mushrooms and onions are cooking, heat the water for the penne.
  6. If needed, add another tablespoon of oil to the frying pan. When the oil is hot, add the squash.
  7. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg. You can always add more pepper or nutmeg. Start small and increase to your taste.
  8. Cook until the squash is tender and beginning to brown. About 10 minutes depending how big you diced the squash.
  9. While the squash is cooking, cook the pasta. You will need to time cooking the squash with the pasta. This depends on the al dente time for the pasta you choose.
  10. When the squash is done, turn the heat to low, and add the mushrooms and onions back into the frying pan. Add the spinach. The spinach should wilt.
  11. Drain the pasta and reserve about a ½ cup pasta water. Set the reserve water aside.
  12. Add the drained pasta back into the pot. Add the feta and stir until melted.
  13. Add the the pasta to the squash mixture in the frying pan. If you don't have a big enough frying pan, you could use a wok or just mix everything in a large mixing bowl.
  14. If it seems dry, add small amounts of the reserve pasta water until desired constancy is achieved. It should resemble a sauce.
  15. Taste test if you require more pepper or nutmeg.
  16. Place the mixture into a large casserole dish and serve hot.
  17. Top individual servings with pecans and Parmesan cheese.
This recipe doesn't take long to cook, but I suggest prepping the squash in advance to save time as that is what takes the longest.



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