Pasta with butternut squash and kale in a lemon butter sauce

In my post about 5 things I want to do this year, I mentioned improving my food photography.  I have been reading books, studying photos on Foodgawker, and reading tips on blogs.  The hardest part for me is having the eye for everything that is outside of and around the actual food that I am plating.  I am learning that just sticking the food on a plate and taking a picture isn’t necessarily the best way to capture the essence of the dish.

The photos that really catch my eye on Foodgawker and Pinterest have many layers.  Interesting plates and utensils, pretty fabrics, even ingredients spilled out on the table.  I can’t tell you how much this challenges me!  Although I am a creative person, I have a hard time “seeing” the finished product in my mind.  This means that I can only get better through lots and lots of practice.  If you are a photo pro and have any tips for me, please leave a comment!

By the way, you should have seen the behind the scenes for this photo shoot.  I was rushing around trying to get the pasta finished before the sun went down, running around looking for fabric to put on the table, hauling the pasta pot out to the backyard, shooing the dog away…. I guess that means that I need to work on my planning skills too!

gluten free pasta with butternut squash and kale in a lemon butter sauce

gluten free pasta with butternut squash and kale in a lemon butter sauce

gluten free pasta with butternut squash and kale in a lemon butter sauce

This pasta works with any veggies you might have lying around.  The secret to the yumminess is the lemon garlic butter.  After trying this dish, the sauce might become your go-to pasta sauce.  It definitely is for me.

Pasta with butternut squash and kale in a lemon butter sauce

A vegetarian pasta that utilizes the bounty of winter vegetables
5 from 1 vote
Servings 8


  • 1 large butternut squash peeled and diced
  • 1 8 oz. package baby bella mushrooms cleaned and halved
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 bunch kale washed, trimmed, and roughly chopped
  • 1 lb. quinoa spaghetti pasta 2 boxes
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 roma tomatoes diced
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter could use all olive oil if preferred
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese for sprinkling


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Set a large pot of water over high heat to boil.
  • Place butternut squash and mushrooms onto baking sheets, spread into one even layer. Mist with olive oil (or toss with 1 tsp. olive oil).
  • Put pan of squash into the oven to roast for 25 minutes. After 10 minutes, toss squash and add pan of mushrooms to oven. When squash and mushrooms are finished roasting, remove from oven and sprinkle nutmeg onto squash. Set aside.
  • When water comes to a boil, add in pasta and kale. Boil for nine minutes. Drain immediately.
  • Meanwhile, heat a small saucepan over medium low heat. Add olive oil and butter. When butter melts, add lemon zest and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes then remove from heat. Be careful not to burn the garlic! Add in lemon juice and stir.
  • Toss pasta and kale with squash, mushrooms, tomatoes and lemon butter sauce.
  • Sprinkle with fresh sage and freshly grated parmesan to serve.


  • EA-The Spicy RD January 9, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Sounds delicious Alysa, and I love your description of running around the house and hauling your pasta pot out to the backyard before the sun went down. Lol! That is totally me! My husband thinks I am a mad woman when I’m taking pictures of our dinner…SO much easier in the summer when there is more light at night!

    • inspiredrd January 11, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      Yes, food photography is way easier in the summer! Glad to know I’m not the only one getting funny looks from their husband 🙂

  • Emily W January 9, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Your pictures turned out gorgeous! All the rushing was worth it. So proud of you for working on your goal. 🙂

    • inspiredrd January 11, 2012 at 12:52 pm

      Thank you Emily!

  • Bre January 10, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Oh dear, that sounds amazing! I especially love that it incorporates kale and butternut squash, two foods I’m trying to eat more of. Also, I could pulse this in the blender and feed it to my 11 month old. I think he’d love it! Thank you.

    • inspiredrd January 11, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      Thanks Bre! I hope you enjoy the pasta.

  • Rosanne January 10, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    5 stars
    I just made this recipe and it was delicious! I used whole wheat pasta since that’s what I had in the pantry, a bunch of lacinto kale, and opted for a fresh oregano garnish (from this week’s Italian Pack along with my bountiful basket!) as I didn’t have any sage on hand. It was a huge hit with the family and there is plenty for lunch left overs tomorrow! Thanks for posting!!

    • inspiredrd January 11, 2012 at 12:47 pm

      Rosanne, thank you for taking the time to let me know that the recipe was a hit. So glad your family enjoyed it!