Creamy Parmesan Orecchiette with Butternut Squash and Broccolini

Creamy Parmesan Orecchiette in a bowl with a fork

Hello hi!

Good news, friends! We are looking at creamy-but-not-overly-creamy FALL PASTA on the menu tonight.

This can be filed under the category of fall bliss – little bites of whole wheat orecchiette with roasted butternut squash and broccolini, tossed with a light Parmesan cream / thyme / garlic sauce and sprinkled generously with pumpkin seeds and Parmesan.

Not too heavy, not too light, just total pasta perfection that is everything October should be, all in one big bowl.

Creamy Parmesan Orecchiette

I ate my first inspirational version of this pasta at the blog retreat I attended this weekend (shout out to Chef Tony from Kroger – seriously AMAZING), and this pasta specifically was the kind of life-changing food magic that just requires that you come home and make it happen immediately, again and again, in your real life.

Things I love about this recipe include its meatlessness (although please, by all means, ADD THAT BACON and we will shout your name from the rooftops), its quick and easy method, its comforting cream sauce that is just barely there and requires nothing more than just a light roux and a little broth or milk + Parmesan, its large quantity of leftovers and their ability to stay yummy for several days, and its glorious way of satisfying a hangry dinner situation with pretty minimal effort. You know I’m all about the good food / minimal effort combo.

This might sound weird, but since the squash sort of melts into everything and the cream sauce is just a little bit Parmesan-cheesy, it DID kind of remind me of a grown up version of macaroni and cheese. Like, think THIS mac and cheese. And just to be clear: I’m saying that as a compliment because as we all know, mac and cheese is, in fact, the single food item that makes life worth living. It is like macaroni and cheese is meeting its lighter version with grown up pasta shapes, more exciting flavors, and luscious roasted fall vegetables. And let me tell you: it is a PARTY.

pasta falling into a bowl
Creamy Parmesan Orecchiette in a bowl with a fork

How are you guys feeling about fall cooking right now? Are you so totally in the zone? Are you over it and just ready to bake Christmas cookies and beautiful tea rings and homemade bread for the next two months?

I am making, like, I think 300 fall recipes today that I am so excited about: winter miso vegetable soup, moroccan-spiced chickpea burrito bowls (don’t even get me started), homemade bread bowls, and pumpkin cake with a caramely streusel layer running through the middle. I literally cannot be stopped. I burn those candles, I wear those tall boots, and I cook the heck out of my fall life. This is my official food season, and after a few weeks of slowed-down rest this last month, I feel like I am finally getting into my fall food groove where I can actually make the exciting food ideas I have at or near the rate that they are coming to me. A little late, maybe, since it’s now almost November, but late is my lifestyle.

Today: I’m wishing you all the weeknight joys of a good meatless pasta dish coated with a light and creamy Parmesan sauce.

May your roasted veggies be just the right amount of crispy, your sauce perfectly creamy, and your pasta bowls super extra deep.

Creamy Parmesan Orecchiette in a bowl with a fork
Creamy Parmesan Orecchiette in a bowl with fork.

Creamy Parmesan Orecchiette with Butternut Squash and Broccolini


Creamy Parmesan Orecchiette! With roasted butternut squash and broccolini, tossed with a light Parmesan cream / thyme / garlic sauce and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. Pasta perfection!


For the Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 12 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine (optional)
  • 23 cups chicken or vegetable broth, or milk
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • lemon juice to taste
  • salt to taste

For the Pasta:

  • 16 ounces orecchiette (I used DeLallo whole wheat orecchiette)
  • 3 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 3 cups broccolini
  • olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • pumpkin seeds
  • additional Parmesan cheese


  1. SAUCE: Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and thyme and saute until soft. Add the flour and whisk until smooth – let it cook for a few minutes to avoid a floury taste. Add the wine and whisk to incorporate. Add the broth or milk, 1/2 cup at a time, and whisk to incorporate. When thickened slightly, add more liquid. Finish with the Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and salt to taste. Sauce should be smooth and light.
  2. VEGETABLES: Place the veggies on two separate baking sheets. Drizzle with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, until tender but not falling apart.
  3. PASTA: Cook the pasta according to package directions. Set aside.
  4. FINISH: Toss everything together (sauce, pasta, vegetables, additional broth as needed to keep it loose) and top generously with pumpkin seeds and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: parmesan pasta, orecchiette, broccolini, squash

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One More Thing!

This recipe is part of our completely delicious broccoli recipes page. Check it out!

The post Creamy Parmesan Orecchiette with Butternut Squash and Broccolini appeared first on Pinch of Yum.

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