In fall and winter, this elegantly rustic fresh pasta dish is equally comfortable as the first course of a stylish dinner party and as the main event at a casual vegetarian supper. Fresh pappardelle (broad, flat noodles, like extra-wide fettuccine) are tossed in a sauce you make by first softening onion and garlic in olive oil, then adding cubed butternut squash and fresh thyme and cooking until tender. Heavy cream reduces to form a sauce, and Parmesan cheese adds its unique umami richness. Crushed, almond-flavored amaretti cookies are an optional garnish—they’re traditional in northern Italy, where they add a bit of sweetness and a beautifully aromatic finish. For an alternative, check out our Pumpkin Tortelloni with Sage and Pumpkin Seeds.
You’ll need to make a batch of Fresh Pasta Dough before you begin.
Special equipment: A machine makes rolling pasta dough a snap. We like Imperia’s hand-cranked model.
We featured this recipe in our Christmas Day Feast, Italian Style photo gallery.
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings
- Difficulty: Medium
- Total: 1 hr 15 mins
- Active: 50 mins
For the pasta:
- All-purpose flour, for dusting
- 1 recipe Fresh Pasta Dough (recipe link in intro)
For the sauce:
- 1 (1-pound) butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup crushed amaretti cookies, for garnishing (optional)
To roll the pasta:
- Set a pasta machine or the pasta attachment of a stand mixer to the widest setting (on most machines it is setting number one).
- Lightly dust a baking sheet with flour; set aside. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces, set 1 piece aside to roll, and cover the remaining pieces with plastic wrap.
- Flatten the dough into a disk and pass it through the pasta machine. Fold the dough in thirds lengthwise and press down to seal. Pass the dough through the machine again beginning with the short (i.e., unfolded) side, repeat folding and passing through the machine one more time, then pass the dough through the machine twice without folding. (If the dough or machine becomes sticky, lightly dust with flour and proceed.)
- Without folding, continue passing the dough through the machine twice per setting, narrowing the setting each time until the dough is thin enough to see the outline of your hand through (usually setting number seven). Dust the pasta sheet with flour on both sides and cut it in half widthwise. Fold each piece in thirds and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap.
- Repeat the process with the remaining 3 pieces of dough.
- Cut each folded pasta sheet into 1-inch-thick strips lengthwise. Unfold the strips, place them on the baking sheet, and toss lightly with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the sauce.
To make the sauce:
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over high heat.
- Meanwhile, prepare the squash: Peel off the skin with a vegetable peeler. Trim the top and bottom. Cut the neck from the bulb of the squash. Halve each piece lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Cut the squash into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, and measured salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the squash, thyme, and measured pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is starting to brown and just gives way when pierced with a knife, about 10 minutes. Pour in the cream, stir to coat the vegetables, and bring to a boil. Stir in the cheese and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Add the reserved pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 1 to 2 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the pasta directly into the sauce. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Remove the pasta and sauce from heat and toss with tongs to coat the pasta. Add the reserved pasta water by the tablespoon to reach the desired sauce consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with amaretti cookies (if using).