Call me a basic betch, but I love the fall – I always have and I always will. I truly enjoy all of the things that people have begun to make a mockery out of: layering clothes and cozy sweaters; crisp air and leaves changing colors; and most of all, the warm and hearty flavors of fall food and beverage. Yes, even those of a pumpkin spice latte.

All jokes aside, this time of year likely has an extra special place in my heart thanks to my Halloween birthday. Growing up, my parents always threw me a killer (eh, no pun intended) costume party that I looked forward to every single year. Quite simply, the fall evokes some of my happiest memories, and being so, I absolutely love it. Ain’t no shame in that.

Anyway, the official first day of autumn prompted me to make my first fall-inspired dish of the year. Something with pumpkin seemed a little too cliche, so I opted for butternut squash instead. (That was a joke, people.) I was craving ravioli for whatever reason, so as I pondered exactly how I could turn a pasta dish into one that also incorporates the fall-friendly flavors of squash, an oven-roasted butternut squash sauce topped with pine nuts and fresh basil came to mind.

Given that I oven-roasted that baby in a maple syrup and brown sugar butter, you better believe that it was divine. Rest assured, I made up for my use of butter by also using healthy ingredients like Greek yogurt, extra virgin olive oil, and almond milk. The end result was quite magical: think sweet and savory enhanced with herbs and spices like oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil, and cayenne pepper. Also, while I opted for this sauce to be paired with basil and goat cheese ravioli from Whole Foods (ah-mazing and highly recommended), it would also taste fabulous with gnocchi or linguini.

Note: this recipe yields four servings.

What you’ll need:

  • A 2 to 2 1/2 lb. butternut squash
  • 1/2 a stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 a sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Cracked black pepper and Himalayan salt to taste
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • The fresh pasta of your choice
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 4 sprigs of fresh basil for garnish

What you’ll do:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F; meanwhile, cut a butternut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds; place onto a baking dish, flesh side up
  • Combine the melted butter, maple syrup, and brown sugar in a small mixing bowl; brush a generous amount of the butter mixture onto the flesh of the squash and pour the remaining mixture into the middle of the squash; roast in the oven for 30 minutes
  • When 30 minutes have elapsed, remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes; when 15 minutes have elapsed, pour the remaining butter mixture into a blender; then, remove the skin of the squash with a paring knife, discard, and cut the remaining squash into moderate-sized cubes; place the cubes into a blender, along with the onion, garlic, and Greek yogurt; blend until smooth
  • Pour the squash mixture into a large frying pan; stir in the EVOO, almond milk, herbs (minus the fresh basil), and spices; cook over low heat for 5 minutes; then, stir in the fresh basil and cook for an additional 3 minutes
  • For each serving: pour 1 cup of sauce over the pasta, and garnish with 1 tbsp. pine nuts, a sprig of fresh basil, and cracked black pepper