This acorn squash pasta is all of the dreamy comfort that you love in a creamy pasta dish without the dairy!
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Busy school days, and comforting meals…
This isn’t exactly the image I was imagining connecting with this warm, comforting meal that I can’t wait to share with you this week! But, as Michigan has a way of doing in early fall, our autumn hike this weekend landed us through the woods and dunes to the Lake Michigan shoreline, and the 80 degree, humid air begged my girls to the water! They are like moths to a flame, and we welcome all the sunshine and warm we can get before things start to turn! These kids work so hard in school all week and one of my greatest joy is having a comforting meal for them when they get home – and to spend the weekend relaxing and exploring!
Weekday comfort in a weekend feeling meal
While pasta dishes may feel fancy, they are actually one of my go-to meals toward the end of the week, when we all need a little dish of comfort, and momma needs a simple prep. It doesn’t get any easier than using delicious aromatic veggies and a creamy fall squash to flavor that comforting pasta.
Natural creaminess without the dairy
There is truly nothing wrong with a good, quality dairy if you can tolerate that. I have so many readers that cannot, however, or do not have access to quality, and so meals like this are truly a need for them. And even if you don’t avoid dairy, you’ll love the way you can get mineral rich acorn squash into your family using this creamy, dreamy sauce made almost entirely from this smooth and creamy fall vegetable.
The method :: The sauce
You’ll start with either roasting or pressure cooking your acorn squash until is soft and ready to blend into a smooth, decadent sauce. If you are a meal planner, you can plan this into your prep day, cooking the squash days in advance so that it is ready when you need it. You could freeze portions of the blended squash or full sauce if you want as well. The sauce is simply blended with starchy pasta water, creamy coconut milk, and silky butter – if you are dairy free ghee tastes lovely or you can finish it with some olive oil. A little salt and pepper and this is one easy sauce!
The Method :: The Veggies, Flavor, and Chicken
While the squash is cooking, you’ll draw all sorts of flavor magic out of your aromatics. The onion, mushroom, and garlic will marry with that creamy sauce and make for comforting experience that will make everyone around the table happy. Don’t skimp on the time in this step – this is the money step. This is where you’ll build flavor.
There are so many options for healthy, quality, better choice pastas today. This list may even change as the years go by! If you truly cannot have any of these pastas, by all means use zoodles, squash noodles, parsnip noodles, carrot noodles, or sweet potato noodles by using your spirilizer.
- Jovial Gluten Free Brown Rice Pasta (So many shape options here)
- Jovial Einkorn Wheat Pasta (If you tolerate wheat/gluten – lots of shape options!)
- Tinkyada Gluten Free Brown Rice Pasta (Lots of shape options here too!)
- Or make your own Sourdough Pasta!
While I love the mild, buttery flavor and light texture of acorn squash, other fall and winter squashes should swap fine such as butternut or buttercup. If you have other veggies besides the broccoli and kale, you could swap those too. Use what you have. I would keep the mushroom, onion, garlic the same, as that flavor base is essential to the flavor of the dish, but adding carrots, peas, asparagus, or whatever you happen to have in the veggie bin will be fine!
Prep ahead tips
- This meal is the perfect next day meal after you have your weekly roasted chicken or Instant Pot chicken. The leftover chicken piles right into this pasta meal perfectly.
- The squash can be made ahead of time as well on a prep day. Store in the fridge, or even make portions for the freezer.
- You can chop the veggies the night before so that when you get home from school and/or work you can just dump in the pan and go!
- Leftovers are great in thermoses for school, or travel crockpots to warm up at work!
Creamy Dairy Free Acorn Squash Pasta (with gluten free pasta recommendations!)
- 1 medium acorn squash
- 3 tbsp butter to cook in or ghee, olive oil, or avocado oil if you are dairy free
- 1 small onion diced
- 4 oz mushrooms sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 2 cups finely chopped kale
- 2-3 cups cooked chicken I use leftover chicken from our weekly roasted chicken or IP chicken – alternatively you could brown up some chicken before you start the veggies
- 12 oz pasta of choice We like the Jovial Brown Rice Pasta Bow Ties for this dish
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk or regular raw milk
- ½ – 1 cup of pasta water
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast optional if you don’t have it – it gives the sauce a cheesy flavor
- 1 tbsp butter or ghee, olive oil, or avocado oil if you are dairy free
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- You’ll want to cook your squash while you make the rest of the meal. Slice your acorn squash in half and scoop the seeds out. If you have an Instant Pot, you can fill the bottom with 1 cup of water and pressure cook on HP for 15 minutes with QR. If you do not have an IP, you can roast the squash in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes until fork tender.
- While the squash cooks, melt 3 tbsp of butter in a large skillet and add the onion and mushroom with a pinch of sea salt. Cook the onion and mushroom over medium heat for 10 minutes until caramelized and fragrant. You can get your pasta water going at this point too so that you can boil your pasta while you get the skillet ingredients cooked.
- Add the garlic to the onion and mushroom, and cook for a minute. Add the broccoli, kale, and cooked chicken, stir to combine, and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes until the broccoli is fork tender.
- To make the sauce, scoop the cooked flesh of the acorn squash into your food processor and add the coconut milk, pasta water, nutritional yeast, butter, and sea salt/pepper to taste. Blend until smooth and then add this sauce along with the cooked pasta to the skillet with the cooked veggies and chicken. You can add more pasta water, broth, milk or even water to thin the sauce out if you want. Stir to combine and taste for salt and pepper.