Butternut Squash Penne with Chicken and Fried Sage is the New Comfort Food. This comforting dish is cheesy, seasonal, healthy, and perfect for the fall.


I love butternut squash. It is such a versatile, delicious vegetable. Once fall comes around, it makes numerous appearances on my menu.

For good reason.

So, I know I just called butternut squash a vegetable, but it’s actually technically a fruit. Either way, this gorgeous fruit-vegetable is a must for roasting, mashing, soup-making, and (as the case is here) creating lovely, silky sauces.

The winter squash resembles the flavor of yams or its gourd-cousin pumpkin. It has a sweet and nutty taste that is delicious when roasted and pairs exceptionally well with a variety of flavors: fragrant sage and herbs, smoky bacon, tart apples, and earthy kale are some favorite combinations.

Let’s talk a little about all of the health benefits in this curvy little gourd. Butternut squash is low in fat and high in fiber, making it a stellar choice already. It’s also quite high in vitamins A, C, and E, in addition to being a great source of potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium. The heart-friendly veggie also has plenty of antioxidants to go around and is rich in beta-carotene, which we can guess by its gorgeous orange hue. Beta-carotene supports heart health and is a powerful antioxidant that is vital to eye health and vision in addition to healthy skin.

Yay, butternut squash!

If you’ve never had butternut squash, there are many ways to prepare it. Peel the tough skin and discard the seeds (save the seeds and roast them!). Then simply cut into cubes and roast with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Or steam and then puree for a butternut mash. Or toss it into soups. Or saute…oh, the possibilities.

Here, I’ve used the gourd to make a lovely sauce and turn it into this Butternut Squash Penne with Chicken and Fried Sage. A simple, healthy, and seasonal comfort food.

butternut squash penne with chicken

butternut squash penne with chicken

I’ve teamed up again with Foster Farms Simply Raised Fresh Chicken to bring you this post. You may remember our last post with them, where we made a lightened-up version of Chicken Alfredo with Zucchini Noodles.

Once again we are re-defining what ‘comfort food’ is. And surely this time of the year is as good a time as any to talk about comfort foods. The temperature is getting lower and the sun is setting earlier and we crave warm, soothing, and healthful meals. There’s almost nothing like coming home from work, getting out of the chill, and making a hot supper crafted with love. Just like when we were kids, and our moms would have a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup ready for us when we came in from playing in the snow.

Of course, we’re not kids anymore, and life sometimes gets in the way. It can be pretty hard to put some healthy comfort food on the table some days. But the New Comfort Food doesn’t have to take a lot of time. It’s just a few ingredients. Seasonal, local produce. Simple preparation. And made with lots of love.

My version of the New Comfort Food, this Butternut Squash Penne with Chicken, has a creamy, soul-warming sauce (that actually has no cream at all). The dish is slightly sweet and solely seasonal. A few simple ingredients, spices you have on hand, whole grain and fiber-rich pasta, a little bit of nutty Parmesan cheese, fragrant fried sage, and antioxidant-ample walnuts accompany the meal.

And, of course, our star of the show: Foster Farms Simply Raised Fresh Chicken. Grown right here in the Pacific Northwest, this chicken is antibiotic-free, 100% vegetarian fed, and locally raised.

butternut squash penne with chicken

butternut squash penne with chicken

butternut squash penne with chicken

butternut squash penne with chicken

butternut squash penne with chicken

butternut squash penne with chicken

butternut squash penne with chicken

Here are some things you may need or want for this recipe:

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Butternut Squash Penne with Chicken and Fried Sage
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Butternut Squash Penne with Chicken and Fried Sage is the New Comfort Food. This comforting dish is cheesy, seasonal, healthy, and perfect for the fall.
Recipe type: pasta
Serves: 6
  • 24 ounces of peeled, cubed butternut squash (from about a 2 pound squash)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound of chicken breasts or breast tenders
  • 1 tablespoon sage, cut into thin ribbons (to fry)
  • 1 tablespoon sage, finely minced
  • 1 pound whole grain penne
  • 1½ cups chicken stock
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
  • ¼ cup chopped, toasted walnuts (plus more for serving)
  • Dried thyme, to taste
  • Salt + pepper, to taste
  • Pinch nutmeg
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
  2. Sprinkle each side of your chicken breast or breast tenders with dried thyme, sea salt, and pepper. Cook chicken in a hot, lightly oiled skillet until browned and cooked through on each side, about 4 minutes per side for tenders or 6 minutes per side for breasts. Set chicken aside on a plate to rest.
  3. Heat a deep skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, toss in the sage (cut into thin strips) and fry, carefully turning, until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and immediately sprinkle with sea salt. Set aside.
  4. To the same skillet, add the shallot and garlic to the oil, stirring until softened but not browned. Add in the peeled and cubed butternut squash. Cook the butternut squash for about 5 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Add in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer the butternut squash mixture about 15 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by half and the squash is fork-tender.
  5. Puree the squash and chicken stock mixture until completely smooth. Add your pasta to the salted, boiling water to cook.
  6. Pour the pureed squash back into the pan and stir in the milk, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, and the minced sage (not what we just fried). Heat until melted. Slice and add the chicken to the sauce to warm through.
  7. Toss whole grain pasta with the butternut squash sauce and chicken. Fold in the toasted walnuts and season with sea salt and pepper, if needed.
  8. Top each bowl with additional Parmesan cheese, the fried sage, and more chopped walnuts.

Thank you to Foster Farms for sponsoring this Butternut Squash Penne with Chicken and Fried Sage! Be sure to check out dozens of other delicious, healthy recipes to make your own New Comfort Food. Try the Foster Farms Simply Raised Fresh Chicken {with a coupon!} for antibiotic-free, locally raised, and 100% vegetarian-fed fresh chicken.

butternut squash pasta with chicken

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