Butternut Rigatoni with Brown Butter & Sage

PREP TIME: 15mins


Make this wonderful family friendly pasta dish early autumn when pumpkins are in abundance!

I made this dish with a very special hybrid called Koginut which is grown for its amazing taste, it is sweet and intensely ‘squashy’. I picked up a few in my weekly Meuse Farm produce bag – so exciting!

In this recipe we are going to cook the butternut, two ways (on the stove & in the oven) to maximise all its sweet flavours. As for the brown sage butter, its a clever and quick way to add loads of decadent flavours, the caramel flavour adds ‘deliciousness’ to most things – you have been warned!

A short pasta works best and rigatoni and penne is my preference. I used salted butter in this recipe but you can use unsalted instead. The greatness of this dish depends on good seasoning, so taste the dish throughout.

Vegan: The dish is equally delicious made with just olive oil.

Getting ahead: All the chopping and measuring can be done ahead but the pasta is best served once ready.

Seasonal swaps: You can use any squash, butternut and any pumpkin would work well.

Serving Suggestion:

A meal on its own.

What you'll need:

  • a baking sheet & baking paper,
  • food processor or hand blender
  • two pots




  • olive oil
  • 1 kg butternut, skinned, cut into bitesized cubes (2cm)
  • 4 leeks, washed, finely sliced, green and white parts
  • 6 garlic cloves, skinned, kept whole
  • 20 sage leaves (1/2 for brown butter)
  • 2 generous tablespoons salted butter (opt)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 400g short pasta
  • generous handful freshly grated parmesan or pecorino romano (opt)
  • salt & pepper
  • few pinches nutmeg (opt)

Brown Butter

  • 50g salted/unsalted butter or olive oil
  • 10 sage leaves
  • (opt) rosemary leaves from one sprig
  • (opt) 5 pecan nut halves, finely chopped
  • (opt) pinch chilli flakes


  1. Preheat the oven to 190c.
  2. Roasted Butternut: Line a baking sheet with baking paper, add half the butternut, 3 whole cloves garlic and half the sage leaves. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil or baking paper and roast for 15-20 minutes. After 20 minutes, increase the heat to 220c, remove the foil/baking paper and roast for a final 10 minutes until the butternut & garlic is tender and starting to caramelise. Mash the garlic with a fork and stir through the butternut.
  3. While the butternut is roasting let’s make the butternut sauce.
  4. Braised Butternut: In a small saucepan add the remaining butternut, leeks, garlic, butter and water and bring to a slow simmer on a medium heat. Season with salt and pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally. Once the butternut is super soft add your milk and warm gently. Season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Blitz until smooth with a hand blender or food processor and taste for seasoning, adding a little of the reserved pasta cooking water (see below) if needed. We are aiming for the consistency of double cream (pancake mixture).
  5. Pasta: While the butternut is roasting and the butternut simmering on the hob, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions until firmly al dente. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of water.
  6. Browned Butter: While the pasta is cooking, add the butter in a small pan over a moderate heat. Add the remaining sage leaves, rosemary and pecan nut if using. Cook gently for about 5 minutes until the butter begins to foam and caramelise (we don’t want to burn the herbs). Stirring occassionally, you will start to smell caramel and the foam will start to disappear as light brown sediment start to fall to the bottom of the pan. The sage leaves should be crisp but not brown. Set aside. Vegan: follow exactly the same method but use olive oil instead, gently heat until herbs and pecan nuts are crisp.
  7. When you are ready to serve: Add the drained pasta to a serving dish, pour the butternut sauce over and mix well, season generously with salt, pepper and more nutmeg. Add the roasted butternut and garlic and any juices by tipping the baking papers content over the pasta. Add the pecorino/parmesan followed by the brown butter – ENJOY!
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