Roasted Butternut Squash Marinara

You can thank my aunt for inspiring this dish. After she sampled my Butternut Squash Lasagna, which doesn’t use any tomatoes, she said that it could also be great with a marinara sauce. I crinkled my nose at her suggestion. Tomatoes with butternut squash? I didn’t like the idea of that flavor combination. “Why not?” My aunt said. And that made me wonder. Why not?

So I started thinking about how I would combine the two together and my busy mind quickly latched onto the idea of a marinara. Something roasted, thick and sweet that blanketed a dish in heavenly goodness. In my first attempts, I tried to keep the marinara fairly traditional by roasting the squash and tomatoes then folding them into a mixture of sauteed onion, garlic and herbs. It just had too much going on, though, and the texture wasn’t right.

Roasted Butternut Squash Marinara

The marinara starts with chunks of butternut squash and sweet cherry tomatoes tossed with olive oil, rosemary, and sea salt. I like to add a bay leaf for additional depth of flavor.

So I ended up simplifying the marinara, no stovetop cooking required. I roasted the squash and cherry tomatoes in a bath of olive oil, rosemary and a pinch of coarse sea salt. I chose to use rosemary in this dish because the sharp, woody, aromatic flavor really brings the earthy butternut squash and sweet cherry tomatoes together. I like to do a slow roast on the vegetables, with a bay leaf for added flavor, to bring out all of the sweet sugars.

Roasted Butternut Squash Marinara

A slow roast brings out the sweet, smoky, caramelized flavors of the tomatoes and squash.

Once roasted, I use a fork to smash the squash and tomatoes and blend them together. It makes for a thicker, chunkier texture than if I pureed it, and I have less dirty dishes to contend with. I then add in some dry red wine, a bit of tomato paste to deepen the tomato flavor, a pinch of crushed red pepper to offset the sweetness of the squash and tomatoes, and some garlic. Admittedly, I will often roast the garlic with the vegetables for a slightly different flavor.

Roasted Butternut Squash Marinara

The penne pasta tubes fill up with delicious marinara.

The result is a marinara that is delicious and versatile. I like to layer it over whole wheat penne pasta because the tubular penne fills up with the delicious marinara. However, it would also be delicious used as the marinara in a traditional lasagna. Lesson learned, Aunt Paula. Thank you for continuing to inspire me!



Roasted Butternut Squash Marinara over Whole Wheat Penne
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 4
  • Serving size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 334.8
  • Fat: 9.8
  • Saturated fat: 1.9
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.9
  • Carbohydrates: 57.8
  • Sugar: 2.1
  • Sodium: 237.8
  • Fiber: 10.1
  • Protein: 9.7
  • Cholesterol: 3.6

Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Sweet butternut squash and cherry tomatoes are roasted for a caramel, smoky flavor addition to a creamy marinara that is out of this world. Try it over some whole wheat penne pasta for your next #MeatlessMonday.
  • 2 cups peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash (about 1″ pieces)
  • 2 cups mixed cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¼ tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • ¼ tsp red chili pepper flakes (aka crushed red pepper)
  • 8 oz. dry whole wheat penne pasta, cooked according to package directions, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a covered baking dish, toss the squash and tomatoes with the oil, rosemary, and half of the salt.
  3. Add the bay leaf, cover the dish and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for 15 more minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and use a fork to smash the squash and tomatoes.
  5. Stir in the red wine, garlic, tomato paste, red chili pepper flakes, and remaining salt.
  6. Serve over the cooked pasta. Top each serving with 1 tbsp of the parmesan cheese.
Nutritional information for just the marinara, without the penne and parmesan:


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Colleen Fields is a food enthusiast and healthy lifestyle convert who has married these two interests to create delicious dishes that lead to long term weight loss success. As a single, working mom, Colleen struggled with her weight for years and tried every diet out there without success. When she began her weight loss journey, she realized that her cooking style needed to change. However, Colleen recognized that the only “healthy” cookbooks and television shows available focused on deprivational diets rather than behavioral changes that lead to long term weight loss success. As a result, she began experimenting and creating her own dishes. By eating smarter and moving more, Colleen took back her life and has lost over 100 pounds, going from a size 26W to a size 12, and maintains her weight today. Through her food blog,, and cookbooks Colleen hopes to share her success with others struggling with obesity and demonstrate that a healthy lifestyle is not only obtainable, but it is also sustainable. Follow Colleen on Facebook, , Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube.