Braised Cauliflower & Squash Penne Pasta

Braised Cauliflower & Squash Penne Pasta

15 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine, September/October 2013

In this braised cauliflower and squash penne pasta recipe, we cook the pasta and vegetables in broth rather than water to make this warming vegetarian pasta extra flavorful. The starch from the pasta and vegetables combines with the broth as it simmers and creates a silky sauce. And you can make the whole dish in just one pot, so cleanup is a breeze.

Ingredients 4 servings

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  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups “no-chicken” broth (see Tips) or vegetable broth
  • 8 ounces whole-wheat penne (about 3 cups)
  • 2 cups 1-inch cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups 1-inch pieces peeled butternut squash (see Tips)
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup finely shredded Pecorino Romano cheese


  • Active

  • Ready In

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, thyme and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add broth, penne, cauliflower and squash. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a lively simmer and cook, uncovered, until the pasta is tender and the liquid is thickened and greatly reduced, 14 to 16 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in pepper and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve topped with cheese.
  • In this vegetarian pasta, we like to use “no-chicken” broth (made from a vegetable base) for its rich flavor and pale golden color instead of darker vegetable broth.
  • For convenience, try using butternut squash that is already peeled and cubed. Look for it near other prepared fresh vegetables in the produce department of most supermarkets.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: about 1½ cups
  • Per serving: 322 calories; 7 g fat(2 g sat); 8 g fiber; 53 g carbohydrates; 10 g protein; 34 mcg folate; 4 mg cholesterol; 5 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 6,787 IU vitamin A; 31 mg vitamin C; 149 mg calcium; 3 mg iron; 654 mg sodium; 472 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (136% daily value), Vitamin C (52% dv)
  • Carbohydrate Servings:
  • Exchanges: 3½ starch, ½ vegetable, ½ fat

Reviews 15

February 28, 2017
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This was pretty meh. Even though I roasted the cauliflower and squash first (per other reviewers), and used less broth than called for, it was still a soupy, mushy, bland mess. Both the kids picked at it, but we all voted that while edible, we wouldn't make this/want to eat it again. Because I hate to waste food, I had the leftovers for lunch, and though I added more cheese and salt, it was still a disappointment.
November 20, 2015
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By: EatingWell User
Good but missing something. I've been trying to find healthy recipes to incorporate into my diet. I'm a pasta lover but this dish is missing something. I took the advice of others and baked the cauliflower and squash(cut up) in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper for 15 minutes @ 390 degrees first. Otherwise, I followed the recipe. I feel like it should have a creamy sauce with sliced kielbasa sausage. Perhaps it should be more of a side than a main dish. Pros: Filling, Wholesome, Healthy Cons: Bland
January 08, 2015
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By: Love Food & Wine
Nice meat free pasta dish w/ butternut squash We rated this an A-. There was a little too much pasta for the amount of cauliflower and squash. I was a little worried after reading some of the reviews, so I roasted the squash and cauliflower 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. I got the pasta pot out and cooked up the garlic & spices, added the broth, brought it to a boil, and added the penne. Cooked according to pasta instructions then added the roasted vegetables. I'll try it the original way next time to see what a difference it makes. Pros: easy to make Cons: too much pasta
July 09, 2014
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By: EatingWell User
Yum This was a simple & easy recipe for the summer. Didn't have any squash, but added spinach at the end and also some kalamata olives. Didn't have Parmesan so used feta. Pros: easy, quick
June 16, 2014
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By: EatingWell User
Just one change... This was a good recipe but braising the 1 inch chunks of cauliflower and butternut squash takes about 25 minutes, not 15. That being said, I would not add the penne until the last ten minutes or so in the process if you want your pasta to be al dente and not mushy. Pros: Flavorful, Filling, Easy Cons: Brasing takes longer than the recipe states and penne comes out mushy
May 12, 2014
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By: EatingWell User
Could be salvaged by roasting the squash and cauliflower I am a huge fan of Eating Well recipes, and this was my first disappointment. I just think braising was the wrong technique here. What's better than roasted cauliflower and roasted butternut squash? Next time, I would toss the veggies with a little olive oil and roast them in a 375 oven for about 45 minutes. Then I would add them to a pan where I had sauteed the garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Finally, I would stir in the almost-cooked pasta and about half a cup of salty cooked pasta water. Let that cook about two minutes, toss with cheese, top with some chopped parsley, and you're done. Pros: Good ingredients Cons: Bland result
November 18, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Kids and Farm Dad Approved I can't believe how incredibly easy this was to make! It was so fast and the flavors burst. All 3 of my children loved it and my husband (a cattle rancher - for Pete's sake!) raved about how good it was. We made it exactly to recipe. I'm making it again tonight, but will add some more veggies (carrots and spinach). This is going to be a staple in our house. Pros: quick, easy, delish, versatile Cons: none!
October 16, 2013
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By: HealthyGEO
Wonderful fall dish I thought this recipe made for a delicious week night meal. My only difficulty was with the pasta. It was hard to keep the pasta under the liquid so that it would cook. I ended up stirring quite a lot which in the end broke pene. So maybe next time I will make the pasta in a separate pot and add it to the sauce... The squash and cauliflower were an excellent combination. I toasted the squash seeds and sprinkled them on top. Yum!!! Pros: healthy, easy
October 05, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Incredibly good AND easy So delicious! Added spinach at the end and wow-the colors! We did use chicken broth and added alittle extra of the seasoning. Flavors were amazing. This dish is so quick, easy, and tasty it is definitely going in the recipe book! Thank you Eating Well! Pros: Easy, flavorful, fast.
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