Rigatoni with Sausage & Butternut Squash Ragu

Rigatoni with Sausage & Butternut Squash Ragu
Recipe Date: July 29, 2021
Serving Size: 6
Difficulty: Medium
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Suggested Pairing: 2018 Wesley’s Reserve

From the kitchen of: Chef Spencer Hochman


  • 2lb butternut squash, peeled, cut in half the short way, seeded
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp salt (and more to taste)
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1lb ground sausage meat*
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • Red chili flakes, to taste
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 12 sage leaves
  • 1lb rigatoni
  • 4oz Estero Gold Reserve (or Parmesan), shaved or grated


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. While it warms up, take the butternut squash and do a rough chop on the bottom half, small dice on the top half. Keep these separate.

2. In a medium saucepot, combine the rough chopped butternut squash, cream, and ½ cup of water. Season with 1 tsp of salt and heat over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil and then to a simmer. Cook until the squash is tender when poked with a fork, then transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, season the diced squash with salt and pepper to taste, as well as 1 tsp of olive oil. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes or until cooked, then remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

4. In a large pan over medium high heat, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil. Once hot, add the sausage and cook for 5 minutes, breaking it into small chunks. Remove the cooked sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

5. Leaving the oil and sausage fat in the pan, cook the garlic, shallots, carrots, and celery over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

6. Add chili flakes and cook for 30 more seconds.

7. Turn the heat up to high, add wine, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half.

8. Reduce heat back down to medium. Pour in the butternut squash puree from the blender and sir to combine, then add the cooked sausage and the roasted diced squash. Keep this warm while the rigatoni cooks.

9. In a small frying pan over medium heat, fry sage leaves in 2 tsp of olive oil for 1 minute. Remove from the pan onto a paper towel lined plate and season with salt.

10. Cook the rigatoni according to package instructions. When it’s al dente, toss the pasta with the butternut squash and sausage mixture. Gently stir to combine.

11. Transfer the pasta and ragu into a serving bowl, top with Estero Gold Reserve and fried sage, and enjoy!

Recipe Notes:

* For the sausage meat, Chef Spencer likes a 50/50 split of hot and mild.

Vegetarian and Vegan Adaptations from Mari

Sausage Substitutions
Option 1: Use plant-based sausage

Option 2: Substitute mushrooms for sausage. I would use Oyster or Maitake mushrooms, Portobello would also be great, or Baby Bellas.
• For step #4: add 1 tbsp. butter (vegan or dairy) to the pan and cook the mushrooms for about 8 minutes, don’t touch them for the first few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. After about 8 minutes add the other tbsp. of butter and to make them even richer you can add a little soy sauce or miso.
• For step #5: add a little more oil/butter to the pan to cook the veggies.

Vegan Substitutions
Option 1: Swap heavy cream for 1/3 C raw cashews (soaked in water for 3+ hours), 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast and ~1 C unsweetened/unflavored plant milk (or water). Use vegan cheese for garnish.
• For step #2: Blend the cooked squash with the soaked cashews and nutritional yeast and plant milk and/or fresh water and blend to the desired consistency (should need about 1 C +/- of water/plant milk).

Option 2: Use vegan heavy cream in place of dairy cream.