Spicy, saucy and oh so flavorful! This sumptuous, autumn pasta is brimming with savory roasted butternut squash, ‘nduja sausage and crispy crumbles of fried rosemary and walnuts. You just know this ones going to be a big hit from the moment you start cooking!
It’s really no secret, I love a spicy, creamy, saucy pasta, see evidence; here, here and here. This recipe is no exception. Made with roasted butternut squash, ‘nduja as well as shallots, rosemary, walnuts and of course a splash of cream to tie it all together…this pasta is perfect for cozy fall dinners!
The contrasting flavors of the salty, spicy ‘nduja (use chorizo or a spicy Italian sausage if you can’t track down ‘nduja) and sweet butternut squash really complement each other. To finish it off, rosemary fried walnuts add a delightful crackly crunch.
The Rosemary Fried Walnuts portion of this recipe comes from Ali Slagel’s new cookbook I Dream of Dinner. It’s the perfect crunchy, savory, herby pasta topper. It would also be really great sprinkled over salads, bowls, risottos etc. I have been really inspired by the recipes and photography in I Dream of Dinner, as well as Ali’s laid-back, yet elegant, style of cooking. Definitely check it out of you’re looking for a new cookbook to add to your collection!
Ingredients You’ll Need:
Here’s everything you need to make this recipe: butternut squash, shallot, short-cut pasta, lemon, rosemary, walnuts, ‘nduja, heavy cream and pecorino or parmesan cheese.
Recipe Step by Step:
Step 1. Roast the Butternut Squash
First get the butternut squash cubes into the oven to roast. They will take between 30-40 minutes to get nice and soft and slightly crisp. While the squash is roasting, start frying the walnuts.
Step 2. Fry the Walnuts and Rosemary
Fried walnuts and rosemary give off a delicious aroma that will make your whole kitchen smell amazing! Add all of the ingredients to a pan and place over medium heat. Sauté for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown and aromatic. When you can really smell them–they’re done!
Step 3. Make the Sauce
Use the same oil and pan that the walnuts and rosemary were fried in to make the sauce. Start by sautéing the shallots until soft and translucent then add in the ‘nduja and roasted squash followed by the pasta, pasta water and a cream.
Step 4. Serve
Toss all of the ingredients together until evenly combined. Divide the pasta between bowls, top with grated cheese and a generous sprinkle of fried walnuts and rosemary.
FAQs and Expert Tips
‘Nduja is a soft, spreadable fermented pork sausage from Italy. It’s seasoned with Calabrian chilies and smoked paprika. It has the most incredibly porky-spicy-sweet flavor.
Yep! Any hearty winter squash will do; acorn, delicata, pumpkin, kabocha etc.
Check Out More Delicious Fall Pastas:
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‘Nduja Pasta with Butternut Squash and Rosemary Fried Walnuts
- 2 heaping cups peeled and diced butternut squash about 1/2 a large butternut squash
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium shallots thinly sliced
- 4 oz 'Nduja about 1/2 a cup
- 1 lb short-cut pasta orecchiette, penne, rigatoni etc
- 1/2 c heavy cream
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 c grated pecorino or parmesan cheese for serving
Rosemary Fried Walnuts
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- zest from 1/2 a lemon
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the squash cubes on a baking tray and toss with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes or until soft and golden brown around the edges.
- Fry the Walnuts: While the squash is roasting, pour the olive oil, rosemary sprigs and walnuts into a large sauté pan and place over medium heat. Season generously with salt and pepper–cook, stirring often, until fragrant and golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the walnuts and rosemary to a paper towel lined plate. Reserve the sauté pan and excess olive oil to cook the rest of the sauce in later. While the walnuts are still warm, grate the zest from 1/2 a lemon over top. Toss to coat. Once cool enough to handle, pluck out the rosemary stems, leaving behind just the crispy fried leaves.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining.
- While the pasta is cooking, add the sliced shallots into the pan that was just used to fry the walnuts and rosemary. Cook until soft and fragrant, stirring often, about 5-7 minutes. Next, turn down the heat to medium-low and add in the 'nduja and roasted butternut squash. Use the back of a wooden spoon to break up the 'nduja. Cook the squash and 'nduja together for 3-5 minutes then add in the cooked pasta, 1/2 cup pasta water and the heavy cream.
- Bring the pasta and sauce to a simmer, tossing everything together until evenly coated. Add more pasta water as needed to loosen up the sauce. Turn off the heat and pour in the lemon juice. Taste and season with salt as needed.
- Divide the pasta between bowls, top with grated cheese and a generous sprinkle of fried walnuts and rosemary.
- Butternut Squash: Any hearty winter squash will work with this recipe; acorn, delicata, pumpkin, kabocha etc.
- Short-Cut Pasta: Short cut pasta like; penne, rigatoni, farfalle, orecchiette, etc, are made to capture hearty ragùs and chunky vegetable sauces in their sturdy hollows and ridges, giving satisfying bursts of flavor as you eat. You can use any short-cut pasta shape you like for this recipe.
- ‘Nduja: ‘Nduja is a soft, spreadable fermented pork sausage from Italy. It’s seasoned with Calabrian chilies and smoked paprika. You can find ‘Nduja online or in specialty Italian markets. If you aren’t able to track any down you can substitute a finely chopped Spanish Chorizo, Mexican Chorizo or something like Merguez.
- Leftover pasta can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat over low heat in a saucepan or in the microwave. Add a few tablespoons of water to loosen up the sauce as needed.