This pasta sauce uses butternut squash and Italian herbs to mimic a traditional marinara sauce but without the acidity. Even though it is sweeter than tomatoes, butternut squash is a wonderful substitute. Add all the traditional herbs, spices and aromatics and you have a sauce that will make the house smell like pasta night.
More Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes
A Quick & Easy Pasta Sauce
Prepping and cooking the squash is a little time consuming, so I wanted the rest of the recipe to be quick and easy. I used dried herbs and spices to speed up the process. If you would like to use fresh ingredients, here’s how to do it:
- Sauté 1/4 c chopped onion for 5 minutes. Add 1-2 minced garlic cloves and cook , stirring for 1 minute.
- Add to the blender along with a handful of fresh basil leaves, 1 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves and leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme.
In order to get a little tang like you would have with tomatoes, I include 2 tsps of lemon juice. I know that some low acid diets include lemons. You can also use lemon zest. This is the yellow outer layer of the skin and it has all the bright lemony flavor. If you need a quick tutorial on how to zest a lemon, check out this post. Leave out the lemon out if you do not tolerate it.
People often say, “oh poor you can’t eat pasta!” Pasta can be a a confusing subject if you are new to a gluten-free diet. See more specific information in my blog post about gluten-free foods where I answer the question Is pasta gluten-free?
How to Peel and Dice Butternut Squash
Some markets carry peeled and cut butternut squash. This is a great time-saver but I find that it can be pretty expensive. So here’s an easy way to do it at home.
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. A Y shaped peeler works best.
Peel down to the bright orange flesh
Peel the bottom
Trim the top and bottom to create flat surfaces
Cut in half lengthwise, top to bottom
Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. The seed pod is slimy, so scrape all the way down to the firm flesh and it will come out much easier.
This was a 1 1/4 lb squash (on the small side), so I just cut off the rounded part on the bottom. The remaining large piece was about 1″ thick. If you have a larger squash you may want to cut it in half (top to bottom) to make the slabs about 1″ thick.
Cut into approximately 1″ strips then cut across into cubes.
How to Cook the Butternut Squash
The cut squash can be roasted on a pan in the oven or in pot on the stove top. I prefer the oven so I can set the timer and walk away. The squash then goes into the blender with the rest of the ingredients.
But if you have an immersion blender, the stove-top method makes this a one-pot sauce. You’ll have to stir the squash as it cooks but then the rest of the ingredients go in the pot and get pureed.
This sauce will keep well in the refrigerator for at least a 5 days. In fact, the flavors will get even better. So feel free to make it ahead of time and you’ll have a comforting, delicious sauce that is ready for pasta, spaghetti squash or eggplant parmesan.
No Tomato, Low Acid Pasta Sauce
- 1 approximately 2 lb butternut squash or 20 oz squash cubes (frozen is ok)
- 2-2½ c low sodium broth*
- ½ c grated Parmiggiano or Romano cheese* vegan subs are ok or ⅓ cnutritional yeast
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning or a combination of oregano, basil and thyme*
- 2 tsp lemon juice If tolerated
- ¾-1¼ tsp table salt
- ¼ tsp granulated garlic*
- ¼ tsp granulated onion*
- 2 pinches red chili flakes, optional
- If using a whole squash – Peel with a vegetable peeler. Cut off the ends and cut into 1" cubes. If using frozen, defrost on a towel for 30 minutes.
- Two options for cooking the squash: Roasting: Toss the squash with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil, spread out on 2 sheet pans and roast at 400°F for approximately 20 minutes or until soft.Stove-top: Heat a large pot with 1 tbsp oil. Add the squash and cook, stirring occasionally until soft. You can skip the blender if you have an immersion blender. Add the ingredients to the pot as described in step 4 and blend until smooth. Then see steps 6 & 7.
- Remove the plastic center piece from the blender lid. This will allow the steam to escape and prevent an explosion of sauce all over your kitchen!
- While the squash is hot, add ½ tsp of the salt, 2 c of the broth and the remaining ingredients to the blender or food processor and puree for at least one minute.
- Scrape down the sides and blend for another 1 minute on high.
- The sauce should be smooth. If it is too thick add 1/4 c broth and blend. Add more until you like the consistency.
- Taste. If needed, add additional salt or chili flakes to amp up the other flavors.