This Creamy Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sausage and Kale is the perfect comfort dish for fall! This easy weeknight dinner uses store-bought cheese ravioli, with lots of veggies coated in a rustic sage cream sauce. On the table in 35 minutes!
This butternut squash ravioli with cream sauce brings all the seasonal autumn veggies we love, winter squash, dark leafy kale greens, and fresh sage! Its warm earthy flavors are perfect when the temps start to drop!
If you love butternut squash, try these other fall favorites:
- Butternut Fall Harvest Salad
- Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Carrot Soup
- Orzo Butternut Squash and Spinach Soup
Ingredients & Substitutions
Healthy seasonal veggies and a little help from the store, this butternut squash cream sauce is made from scratch with a few simple ingredients.
- Sausage - Use a half pound of any bulk ground sausage you like. I usually get a mild Italian sausage. If your sausage comes in a 1 pound package, the other half can be frozen raw and used in another pasta dish or as a pizza topping. A whole pound would be too rich for this recipe.
- Butternut Squash - Healthy, hearty and delicious, we LOVE butternut squash! You can buy a whole squash and chop it yourself, or take some help from the store and buy it pre-chopped. Either way, you want to be sure it's chopped fairly small, about ½ inch cubes, so it can easily cook through on the stovetop. You won't need a whole squash for this recipe, the extra can be refrigerated for 2 days or frozen for another use. You could really make this recipe with any variety of winter squash.
- Cheese Ravioli - Store-bought ravioli makes this an easy weeknight meal. I just use the basic cheese version, since the butternut squash ravioli sauce provides all the bold flavors. Refrigerated ravioli is usually better quality than dried. You could also use cheese tortellini or a regular short pasta like farfalle, medium shells, penne, rotini or cavatappi.
- Kale - Still hanging out in the fall garden, kale adds some healthy greens to balance this creamy sauce. If you aren't a huge fan of kale, it is thinly sliced in this recipe and melts right into the sauce without much notice. You could also substitute fresh spinach.
- Garlic - Always chop fresh garlic if you can for the best flavor.
- Cooking Water from the Pasta - Super important! Don't pour that cooking liquid down the drain when draining your pasta! First, pull some out with a ladle or a coffee mug and reserve it for the sauce. You'll need 1 cup for sure, but save about 2 cups, the extra can be used to thin your sauce if it gets too thick.
- Cream - A bit of heavy cream brings this butternut squash and kale pasta together. As it simmers, it reduces slightly, becoming rich and creamy! The butternut squash sort of melts right in, giving the cream sauce a velvety orange hue.
- Nutmeg - Just a little hint of nutmeg brings a warm tone to the sage cream sauce.
- Fresh Sage - Sage is that super savory, earthy fresh herb that loves sausage and squash! Fresh will be much better than dried. You can also substitute fresh thyme or rosemary for a little variation.
- Parmesan Cheese - Pairs well with cream sauce, and a simple garnish for each bowl!
See recipe card for quantities.
Step 1 - Prepare your Ingredients. Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler, cut off the ends (freeze them for homemade chicken stock!), and remove the seed cavity with a spoon or portion scoop. You'll want to chop the squash in small cubes, about ½ inch. If they are too big, they will take too long to cook through in the sauce. Cut the squash in slices, then stack the slices and cut into strips, and then cubes.
You won't need an entire squash for this recipe, the rest will keep in the fridge for 2 days or freeze it for another use, like this Maple Squash Fall Harvest Salad.
Wash your kale really well and cut the leaves from the stems. Pile the leaves into a tight wad and hold with your left hand.
With your right hand, thinly slice through with your knife, leaving the kale in thin ribbons. You can give the ribbons another rough chop.
Step 2 - Cook the Sausage and Squash - You can also begin boiling the water for the ravioli, cook it following the cook time on the package, reserve 2 cups of the starchy cooking water before draining.
Brown your sausage in half of a skillet while sautéing the butternut squash on the other half. Season the squash with salt.
Try to keep them separated as best you can and stir both occasionally until the sausage is fully cooked.
Step 3 - Add your kale and garlic and mix everything together, continuing to cook a few more minutes.
Step 4 - Make the Sauce - BEFORE YOU DRAIN THE PASTA, pull out about 2 cups of the starchy cooking liquid. Add 1 cup to the squash and sausage, using it to deglaze the pan and scrape up all that flavor with a wooden spoon.
At this point, taste a squash and decide if it's cooked through. If it isn't, simmer in the water until it's done, add a bit more water if needed. Depending on how small you cut the squash, it may be done already.
When the squash is cooked through, add the nutmeg, sage and cream and simmer a few more minutes until it is reduced and beginning to thicken.
Step 5 - Add the Ravioli - Add the ravioli to the sauce and slowly mix until it is well incorporated. Be careful with it, it's delicate! Add Parmesan cheese and serve.
Chef Tip: A basic cream sauce is very simple. If it is too thin, continue to simmer it over low heat, it will thicken as it reduces. If it is too thick, add more of the starchy pasta water to thin it. Don't worry if you run out of pasta water, just add a bit of regular water. You can adjust these two factors all the way through the meal and even when reheating the leftovers. You may eat a bowl of pasta and come back for seconds to find it's gotten thick as it sat, add a bit of water to thin it back out.
Store leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. Freezing is not recommended, although you can freeze a package of store-bought ravioli to keep this meal an option for any time!
I don't really recommend making this meal in advance, but you could make it up earlier in the day, store it in the fridge and reheat it on the stovetop for dinner. You will likely need to add a bit of water to get the sauce back to its right consistency.
What to Serve with Butternut Squash and Kale Pasta
This butternut squash ravioli with sage cream sauce is a rich hearty pasta dish, incorporating lots of veggies, protein and starch, so it's a well rounded meal on it's own! It pairs well with a bright fresh salad, try these favorites:
- Prosciutto Parmesan Salad with Basil Dressing
- Kale Apple Slaw Salad
- Blueberry Goat Cheese Salad
- Broccoli Salad with Feta and Cranberries
- Any simple green salad with Homemade Vinaigrette
Saving the pasta cooking water is one of the essentials of sauce making! The starch helps the sauce thicken, and the water has salty pasta flavor. It's liquid gold, so get in the habit of pulling some out before you drain your pasta! A measuring cup, ladle or coffee cup works well for this!
Store-bought refrigerated ravioli is delicious, but getting kinda pricey these days! You can make this same dish with a cheap box of regular pasta such as bow tie, medium shells, or penne. This will also make the dish a bit less rich.
Yes, since half and half is just half cream and half milk, you can use it as a substitute, which will make the dish a bit less rich.
Yes, you can definitely take a little help from the store and buy the pre-chopped butternut squash. You just want to make sure it's cut in small enough cubes that they don't take too long to cook in the sauce. If they are cut in large cubes, just chop them smaller before you start.
More Favorite Pasta Nights!
Creamy Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sausage and Kale
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ½ pound sausage bulk, ground
- 3 cups butternut squash cubed small
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 18 ounces cheese ravioli
- 3 leaves kale chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup cooking water from the pasta more as needed
- 1 cup cream
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ cup fresh sage chopped
- ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese shredded
- Prepare your vegetables. Peel the butternut squash with a vegetable peeler, cut off the ends, and cut it in half lengthwise. Remove the seed cavity with a spoon or ice cream scoop. Cut it into small cubes, about ½ inch. To slice your kale, cut it off the stems and pile up the leaves on your cutting board in a tight wad. Hold that tight pile with your left hand and thinly slice it with your knife in your right hand, making little ribbons. Then give the ribbons a rough chop. Mince the garlic and sage.
- Preheat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. In half the skillet, brown the sausage. In the other half, saute the butternut squash. Try to keep them separated as best you can. Season the squash with salt. Saute about 12 minutes until the sausage is fully cooked, stirring occasionally and breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon.
- Meanwhile, set water to boil and cook your ravioli following the package instructions. Add a pinch of salt to the water, the brand I used was 3 minutes. Reserve about 2 cups of the starchy cooking liquid before draining. Use a ladle, measuring cup or coffee cup to scoop it out!
- When the sausage is fully cooked, add the kale and garlic and cook another couple minutes. Everything can be mixed together.
- Add 1 cup of the starchy cooking water from the pasta water and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the bites of flavor from the pan. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the squash is soft and cooked through. Taste one! Depending on how small you cut the squash, they might be done already or may need a few minutes.
- Add the nutmeg, sage, and cream and simmer over low to medium low heat another 5 minutes until the sauce starts to reduce and thicken.
- Add the ravioli to the sauce and mix gently to combine. Add the Parmesan cheese. Garnish with more fresh sage and serve. If your sauce becomes too thick at any time, add a bit more of the pasta cooking water (or regular water if you run out).
- Depending on the size, you won't need a whole butternut squash for this recipe. You can store the extra in the fridge for 2 days, or freeze for another use.
- Be sure to save some of the pasta cooking water before draining.
- Be sure your squash is cooked through and not hard before adding the cream, taste one!