Pasta Shells in Butternut Squash Sauce

We are into the second week of 2016 and I’m positive that all those New Year’s Resolutions you made are still in full swing, right?? I’ve decided – just now – that one of my resolutions is to continue eating foods that are delicious and enjoyable, because how boring would the next year be if I was stuck forcing myself to eat foods that didn’t taste good and didn’t bring me pleasure?

Did you vow to jump on what some call the “healthy eating bandwagon” this year, but you’re having a difficult time finding foods that are actually enjoyable to eat and don’t taste like cardboard?

Did you banish all pasta dishes from entering the new year with you?

Did you grudgingly leave all those rich, decadent and creamy dishes in the dust?

Can you eat a creamy pasta dish on a healthy diet! Yes with this butternut squash sauce! #rdchatClick To Tweet

If you’re convinced that “healthy eating” is all spinach salads and raw veggies and no pasta or carbs and you’re hesitant to stick with it, don’t give up just yet! I have a recipe for you that juuust might change your perspective on what “healthy eating” can really be, and yes, it includes pasta 😉

Healthy Eating that includes pasta!

It always seems like pasta dishes get a bad rap when talk of eating healthier starts up, doesn’t it? Rather than completely eliminating pasta from the diet, why not just put a healthier spin on what we already love? That’s what this recipe for pasta shells with butternut squash sauce does and let me tell you, it will be a staple in my kitchen for years to come. Replacing a traditional cream-based sauce with a puree of butternut squash, onions, garlic and vegetable stock not only cuts back on saturated fat and calories, but also offers an additional (and tasty!) serving of veggies. Win-win!

I enjoyed pairing mine with a side of roasted green beans for an additional texture and flavor, but totally could’ve been satisfied with it on it’s own!

Did you make any food or nutrition-related resolutions for 2016? If so, tell me about them!


Pasta Shells in Butternut Squash Sauce

  • Author: Holley Grainger
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


A pasta recipe that’s equal parts decadent and healthy, you won’t regret throwing this meal together in under 45 minutes!



  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups butternut squash (peeled, seeded and cubed)
  • 1 yellow onion (roughly chopped)
  • 1 tsp minced Garlic
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock (unsalted)
  • 4 cups pasta shells


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once heated, add in cubed squash, diced onion, and minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally for 10-12 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
  2. After 10-12 minutes, add in vegetable stock. Bring mixture to a boil before reducing heat and allowing to simmer for 15 minutes, or until squash is softened.
  3. While mixture is simmering, prepare pasta shells as directed on package. Drain pasta, being sure to reserve ¼ cup to ½ cup of the water it was cooked in.
  4. After squash mixture has softened, remove it from the heat and allow to cool briefly before transferring into a blender. Puree the squash mixture into a smooth consistency.
  5. Return to skillet and combine pureed squash mixture, pasta shells, and ¼ cup pasta water in skillet. Allow to cook over medium heat for a 3-4 minutes, tossing shells with squash mixture to evenly coat. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
  6. Serve pasta on its own, topped with shaved cheese such a Parmesan, or as a side to your meal.