Creamy Parmesan Orecchiette with Butternut Squash and Broccolini Recipe - Pinch of Yum
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Creamy Parmesan Orecchiette with Butternut Squash and Broccolini

14 reviews / 4.7 average

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

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  1. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Amy|The Cook Report

    This looks like the perfect autumn dinner, I’m so excited to try it! I also love orchiette, a thoroughly underrated pasta shape I think!

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo

    did you use broth or milk (or a combo of both) in the version pictured? I imagine the results are quite different with one versus the other.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      I used broth! Just makes for a lighter sauce that sort of coats everything. Milk obviously gives it a little more creaminess.

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo

    LITERALLY COULD NOT RUN TO MY COMPUTER FAST ENOUGH TO COMMENT. You are a) making my dreams come true and b) freaking fast with the recipe turn around, lol. In all seriousness, this was my fave dish of the retreat. I am so happy it’s in my life for keeps. #CHEFTONY.

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I’m usually all about the meat, in particular the bacon but I’m having one of these freaky, can’t touch meat weeks so I think just this once I’m leaving this out. Okay, this looks better than the Olive Garden and that’s saying a lot for me!! I know, everyone tries to tell me their food isn’t good but I still think it is!

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Hello Lindsay!
    This recipe is dedicated to me i guess – got exactly the needed ingredients. Would you be willing to share, where did you get that fancy spoty bowl you used in the photos? Thanks!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      flavor was fabulous but the ratio of pasta to veggies seemed way off- next time I would cut the pasta I half. I am a T1 diabetic so watching the pasta content, maybe that skewed it. Love love love your recipes!!!

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This looks like a great quick fall one-dish meal. I love sage + squash + brown butter (which makes most thing better), so I might try that sometime, though I’m not sure how broccolini will taste with those flavors (my first thought is “incompatible”).

    But I have an issue with orecchiette: they always stick together in clumps. It seems that there is something about the concave nature of the pasta that holds them together ( surface tension plus the starches turning to glue?). It’s a frustrating situation because then the pasta is unevenly cooked, with the agglomerations being too tough. Can this be prevented?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      You’re right – it’s close to impossible to keep them from sticking! Just from some quick research, it’s recommended to 1) Use plenty of water; 2) Make sure the water is at a rapid, hard boil before adding; and 3) Stir constantly for the first few minutes. 🙂

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Brittany Angus

    I love butternut squash and anything with pasta, especially as the chill sets in here in West Virginia. I love the use of links to Pinterest and directly to the recipe and the nutrition facts are awesome! Healthy is yummy and yummy can be healthy, too! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Jami Harvey

    I would love to know where you got the bowl in the picture. I’ve been looking for one like it for months!

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Jami Harvey

        No wait! I just tried searching for that website and it doesn’t exist! Does he sell more bowls just like that? I NEED ONE!!!💕😃

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This looks so yummy! Does it keep well in the fridge and then reheat well for leftovers? I’m cooking for one so I often make a big dish and eat it over 2 or 3 days and would love to try this!

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo

    i made this for dinner last night and it was so delicious! it was easy to put together and didn’t take too long either. i didn’t have any fresh thyme but i did have fresh sage (!), so i used that instead and it was yummy.

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Making this tonight with the autumn glow salad!I can’t find broccolini anywhere. Do you think kale or maybe spinach would sub in OK?

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I just want to say thank you for wonderful recipes. Thanks to you i started enjoying cooking because i dont have to eat every day the same, boring food. I only cook from your website, you have everything i need. Thank you.

  13. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I always love your recipes but found this one didn’t work sadly. I think the creamy sauce/thyme/lemon just tasted weird together and my family barely touched it.

  14. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This is comfort food at it’s finest! Even kid friendly. Any way this could be made in an instant pot?

  15. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This was so easy and delicious! My pasta sauces never come out as planned, but i’ve made this one twice now and both times came out perfectly. Another staple recipe added to the list.

  16. Pinch of Yum Logo
    arianna hill

    This is SO delicious – I used a chickpea pasta (trynna be better about carbs and it’s the only substitute that holds its own with sauces) and added goat cheese to the sauce and it made a creamy, rich, perfect fall dish. OH I also added chicken sausage because my I had some that was about to go bad and man oh man. I am satisfied, full, happy, and we both have lunch for the rest of the week.

  17. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Just made this! Halved the recipe. Used Banza shells, half and half and regular broccoli. So good and extra creamy!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Wow! This was incredible! And gave me all the autumn feels! Thanks for the fantastic recipe!