Tortellini Butternut Squash Pasta with Pancetta and Spinach

Tortellini Butternut Squash Pasta with Pancetta and Spinach is a creamy, comforting dinner. Ready in 30 minutes, this pasta recipe is one the whole family will love. Makes 6 servings.

Love easy pasta dishes? You need to try Lemon Salmon Pasta and Slow Cooker Chicken Tortellini Soup!

Two servings of butternut squash pasta on white plates

Today’s the day—it’s Freaky Friday Fall 2021! And I’m thrilled to be sharing a recipe from Angela of LeMoine Family Kitchen.

I had my work cut out for me because Angela has so many recipes on her site to choose from. Like me, she’s been blogging for years and has TONS of options!

I knew I wanted to highlight a fall ingredient, and Angela has a ton of butternut squash recipes on her site! Simply put, this fall favorite ingredient called my name. I wound up choosing her Tortellini with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Pancetta because I thought my whole family would dig it.

Spoiler alert: We all LOVED IT!

Why we love this recipe:

I’m seriously obsessed with this quick tortellini recipe. Why? It highlights some of my favorite fall flavors.

Also…

  • It’s quick to make! I was able to put this together on a weeknight with ease. (Pro tip: Purchase pre-chopped butternut squash to save yourself time.)
  • It’s perfect for a crowd. Yes, this pasta is easy to serve to guests and also delicious.
  • The seasonal ingredients just sing when paired together. Something about the combination of butternut squash, pancetta, garlic and spinach with the tortellini and cream is just right and perfect for this season.

Basically—there’s a ton to love about this recipe. And unlike some butternut squash pasta recipes, we won’t use pureed butternut squash, either. (So you won’t need to get out your food processor.) It stays in cube form, and it melds into the creamy sauce so beautifully!

Other pasta dishes to try: French Onion Steak Pasta | Cajun Chicken Alfredo | Spicy Sausage Ground Turkey Pasta Sauce | Chicken and Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese | Lemon Shrimp Pasta

Need dinner inspiration? Check out my Dinner Recipe Index for some ideas!

Tortellini Butternut Squash Pasta with Pancetta and Spinach on a large white serving platter

Let me tell you about Angela and LeMoine Family Kitchen

Angela is a stay-at-home mama to two boys who’s from New Jersey. She’s got deep Italian roots—all of her grandparents came to the U.S. from Italy. Her family’s gatherings always involved food, and Angela says that she was always looking to help in the kitchen. And her love for cooking has only grown since her childhood.

When I was assigned Angela’s blog, I knew I would be making a pasta recipe. Hi, hello. Please inspect her pasta recipe index and drool with me.

I perused her seasonal dishes, pondering a Cranberry Apple Pie or maybe Apple Chestnut Stuffing.

In the end, I decided between Tortellini with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Pancetta and Fusilli with Sausage, Kale and Butternut Squash. The tortellini won out.

I hope you’ll take some time to head over to Angela’s blog and check out her recipes!

So… What Is Freaky Friday?

It’s an blog hop, which is a collaboration where every blogger posts on the same day. We also link to one another. It’s a fun way to connect with other bloggers, as well as introduce our readers to new people to follow. 

Michaela, the lady behind An Affair from the Heart, founded this quarterly collaboration and secretly assigns everyone another blogger.

We then choose and make a recipe from their site in secret, photographing it as our own. Then we write a post about it and share our posts on the same Friday. That day is today!

We hope that this collaboration helps you discover some amazing new recipes, as well as find new bloggers to follow!

For previous Freaky Friday exchanges, I’ve made:

Check out all of our 2021 Freaky Friday Fall Recipe Exchange Recipes:

  • An Affair from the Heart – Pumpkin Pie Bars with Shortbread Crust
  • Aunt Bee’s Recipes – 30 Minute Skillet Lasagna
  • The Carefree Kitchen – Brazilian Cheese Bread
  • Devour Dinner – Instant Pot Applesauce
  • Fresh April Flours – Instant Pot Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • The Fresh Cooky – Air Fryer Ravioli
  • The Foodie Affair – Bacon Wrapped Green Bean Recipe
  • Hostess at Heart – Fudgy Chocolate Brownie Cookie Recipe
  • House of Nash Eats – Pumpkin Bundt Cake
  • Kathryn’s Kitchen Blog – Halloween Monster Cookie Recipe
  • Lemoine Family Kitchen – Creamy Vegetable Gnocchi Soup
  • Life Currents – Loaded Potato Skins
  • Life, Love & Good Food – Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
  • Sue Bee Homemaker – Overnight Sourdough Bread
  • Take Two Tapas – Air Fryer Asparagus Fries
  • Butternut squash, pasta and other ingredients in bowls

    What you’ll need to make this recipe

    The Speckled Palate participates in affiliate programs. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases. Please refer to my disclosure page for more information about these affiliate programs.

    In addition to these tools, you’ll need a handful of ingredients, too.

    • Fresh tortellini—I used a five-cheese variety, but you can use your favorite flavor. Make sure to purchase it from the refrigerated section of your grocery for optimal flavor.
    • Reserved pasta water—I know this sounds like an odd ingredient, but go with me on this. The water the pasta boils in can help bind a sauce to the pasta. So just before you drain the tortellini, reserve about a cup for later. You probably won’t need all of it, but I always like to have more in case it’s necessary.
    • Pancetta—this is a cut of meat originating in Italy is cured in salt and preserved. Unlike bacon, which also comes from the pork belly, it’s not cured and smoked.
    • Olive oil
    • Garlic—you will need whole cloves of garlic, so don’t use the pre-chopped stuff.
    • Butternut squash—it needs to be diced. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of dicing a whole squash, a lot of stores sell chopped butternut squash in their refrigerated section. (If you have a whole butternut squash and need assistance, check out How to Peel and Cut Butternut Squash.)
    • Spinach—fresh baby spinach is what you’re looking for here!
    • Light cream—I could not find it in my grocery store, so I used whipping cream, which has a higher fat content. If you can find light cream, purchase it.
    • Salt and pepper—we keep medium-grain kosher salt in our house and grind out black pepper

    Acceptable substitutions in this recipe:

    Look, I’m not one to make a ton of substitutions in recipes, but if you have trouble finding some ingredients, here is what I recommend:

    • Tortellini: If you can’t find fresh tortellini, look in the freezer section for frozen tortellini. Follow the instructions on the package to cook it, but it’ll work like a charm here, too. Also consider using your favorite filling.
    • Pancetta: If you can’t find this at your grocery store or local butcher, consider using the same amount of bacon. The bacon will add a smokier flavor to the pasta dish, but it will still be delicious!
    • Light cream: This was unavailable at my grocery store, so I used whipping cream instead. Light cream has about 20% fat content while whipping cream has 35% fat content. (By comparison, heavy cream has at least 36% fat content. Half-and-half has just 12%. If you like to nerd out about this stuff, here’s an excellent article from The Kitchn.) I decided to go with the heavier cream to make a more decadent sauce.
    Collage showing how to cook pancetta and butternut squash

    How to make Tortellini Butternut Squash Pasta with Pancetta and Spinach

    Prep your ingredients. Dice the pancetta and butternut squash, if they’re not already. Crush the garlic cloves. Measure out the cream into a liquid measuring cup. This will come in handy later because everything is ready to go.

    Boil the tortellini. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously, then add the fresh tortellini, cooking until al dente. This shouldn’t take long since the pasta is fresh.

    Reserve the pasta water, drain the tortellini, and set aside.

    Cook the pancetta. Do this in a large skillet or braiser pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and pancetta, and cook until crisp.

    Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta from the pan. Drain it on a plate lined with a paper towel. You’ll need this for garnish later, so don’t toss it!

    Pro tip: Don’t drain the remaining fat from the pan! This is going to flavor the rest of our pasta dish, so leave it there!

    Cook the butternut squash and garlic. Add the garlic and squash to the pan, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until fork tender, about 5-7 minutes.

    Add the cream. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan once the cream is in to pull up any tasty bits. Cook for just a few moments, careful not to bring to a boil. The sauce will thicken.

    Wilt the spinach, and add the pasta. Toss the tortellini to coat. Give it a taste, too, to see if you need more salt or pepper, and add those accordingly.

    If the pasta feels dry, add a bit of the reserved pasta water, and give it another gentle toss.

    Serve immediately with crispy pancetta and grated pecorino or parmesan cheese for garnish.

    Collage showing how to put the pasta together

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Does butternut squash work for spaghetti?

    Yes, it does! However, we’re using cheese tortellini in this recipe to give extra flavor and cheesiness!

    What flavors go well with butternut squash?

    Butternut squash pairs with lots of different flavors, but it especially goes well with seasonal flavors in the fall and winter months. This includes sage, pancetta, spinach and more.

    What does butternut squash pasta sauce taste like?

    This pasta sauce is creamy, a little salty (from the pancetta!) and utterly delicious.

    Can you freeze butternut squash?

    Yes! If you have leftover butternut squash, place the diced pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until the squash is totally frozen. Transfer to a freezer bag. It’ll keep for 3-6 months.

    Three plates holding servings of creamy Tortellini Butternut Squash Pasta

    Quick tips and tricks for making the quick tortellini pasta

    • Double or triple the recipe! If you’re feeding a crowd, you definitely want to do this. I suggest using a larger pot or dividing it between two skillets because it will become ungainly in one.
    • Dice your squash in advance. This is a great way to cut down on prepwork. Prep and dice the squash, and store in an airtight food storage container in the fridge. It’ll be good for 3-5 days.
    • How to store leftovers: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Reheat in the microwave in 30-second increments until heated through.
    Two servings of butternut squash pasta on white plates
    Yield: 6 servings

    Tortellini Butternut Squash Pasta with Pancetta and Spinach

    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 20 minutes
    Total Time: 30 minutes

    Tortellini Butternut Squash Pasta with Pancetta and Spinach is a creamy, comforting dinner. Ready in 30 minutes, this pasta recipe is one the whole family will love. Makes 4-6 servings.

    Ingredients

    • 20 oz. fresh cheese tortellini
    • ½ cup reserved pasta water
    • 8 oz. diced pancetta
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 1 lb. diced butternut squash (about 3 heaping cups)
    • 8 oz. baby spinach
    • 1 cup light cream (½ pint)
    • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
    • Grated pecorino, for serving

    Instructions

    1. Prep ingredients. This means dice the pancetta and butternut squash, if they’re not already diced. Crush the garlic cloves. Measure out the cream.
    2. Cook the tortellini. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously, then add the tortellini, cooking for 3-4 minutes, or until cooked through. Reserve the pasta water, and drain the tortellini. Set aside.
    3. Cook the pancetta. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and the pancetta. Cook until crisp, about 4-5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta. Place it on a plate with a paper towel for later.
    4. Cook the butternut squash and garlic. Add the garlic and squash to the pan with the pancetta drippings. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
    5. Add the cream. Scrape the bottom of the pan for any tasty bits, and cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens.
    6. Add the spinach, tossing until wilted.
    7. Pour in the tortellini, and toss to coat. Taste, then season with salt and pepper, if necessary. If the pasta feels dry, add a little bit of the reserved pasta water.
    8. Serve immediately. Garnish with the crispy pancetta and grated pecorino.

    Notes

    This recipe originally appears on the Lemoine Family Kitchen. I'm publishing it here as a part of a collaboration.

    How to store leftovers: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.

    Need to make a substitution? Here’s what I recommend:

    • Tortellini: If you can’t find fresh tortellini, look into frozen tortellini. Follow the instructions on the package to cook it, but it’ll work like a charm here, too. Also consider using your favorite filling. Angela and I both used cheese tortellini, but you could easily use a cheese-and-chicken variety if you’re into that.
    • Pancetta: If you can’t find this at your grocery store or local butcher, consider using the same amount of bacon. The bacon will add a smokier flavor to the pasta dish, but it will still be delicious!
    • Light cream: This was unavailable at my grocery store, so I used whipping cream in its place. Light cream has about 20% fat content while whipping cream has about 35% fat content. (As a means of comparison, heavy cream has at least 36% fat content and half-and-half has just 12%.) I decided to go with the heavier cream to make a more decadent sauce and encourage you to do the same.

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    Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    6 servings

    Serving Size:

    1 serving

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 679Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 580mgCarbohydrates: 59gFiber: 5gSugar: 4gProtein: 21g

    Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

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    18 Comments

    1. I agree, all of Angela’s recipes are amazing! I have a butternut squash in my fridge right now and I can’t wait to try this recipe over the weekend β€” sounds so yummy!

      1. Ha! You might be correct about this being the most perfect fall-flavored pasta dish! It’s SO GOOD. I cannot wait for you to give this a try–report back and let me know what you thought!

    2. You caught me at tortellini, but then you reeled me in with pancetta and butternut squash in cream sauce! Making this weekend!

      1. Oh YAY! I’m so glad you and yours enjoyed this easy tortellini recipe! I hope you make it a few more times before butternut squash season is up. You’re so welcome!

    3. Oh wow the flavors in this dish are incredible! Very easy to make and tastes like it came from a fancy restaraunt!

    4. Oh friend, you did a beautiful job recreating this recipe!!! Your kind words are so appreciated and I am so happy you enjoyed this recipe as much as I do. Its so simple but the flavors are so good! A great Fall meal for sure! PS- your photos are gorgeous!!!

      1. Thanks, Angela! I was so thrilled to get to recreate one of your recipes and this one just felt perfect. πŸ™‚ Simple but flavor-packed dishes are just the best. We’ll be making this again and again this fall for sure.

    5. It’s gotten a little cool here so when I saw this beautiful pasta dish I knew it was Sunday dinner! We absolutely loved it and can’t wait to devour the leftovers tonight!

      1. I love that you saw this and knew it was gonna be your Sunday dinner! SO happy you loved it and that you’ve got leftovers to enjoy again! That’s the best. πŸ™‚

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