Cavatelli with Spicy Winter Squash

"This pasta," Mario Batali says, "always propels me into fall." You can substitute pumpkin or hubbard squash--whichever looks more beautiful at your market--for the butternut. "Cook the squash until it's soft but not falling apart--you don't want al dente squash, but you don't want mush either," Batali says.

Plus: Pasta Recipes and Tips

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 8

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  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 2 pounds butternut squash—peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds cavatelli or small shells
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated caciocavallo, pecorino or Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

How to make this recipe

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, onion and crushed red pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic and onion are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the squash and thyme, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender, about 5 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, add the cavatelli to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Add the cavatelli to the squash mixture in the skillet, then stir in 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and toss gently to combine. Add the 3/4 cup of caciocavallo, season with salt and pepper and stir gently; add a little more pasta water if necessary. Serve the pasta right away, passing more cheese at the table.

Suggested Pairing

Joe Bastianich recommends a simple, fruity Sangiovese here, which pairs well with the sweet sautéed squash.

Contributed By Photo © Quentin Bacon Published November 2004

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