Butternut Squash Sauce with Sausage Meatballs
This butternut squash sauce is a little unexpected and is so flavorful that it can win over almost any squash hater. Pair it with a salad and you’ve got a quick weeknight meal.
Written by Emily of One Lovely Life
I’m on a mission to help my family try new vegetables. It’s a challenge with two toddlers at home, one of whom is a problem feeder who struggles with sensory issues, to the point that we’ve been consulting with several feeding therapists through the last few years.
- Keep mealtimes as low-pressure as you can.
- Present a variety of foods at the table with at least 1-2 things you know your child likes, so you know they’ll eat SOMETHING.
- Encourage them to try bites of the vegetables or new foods you’re experimenting with. If possible, encourage the “one bite” rule, but don’t create a battle scene. If no one wants to even try it, you can say “That’s okay, maybe next time” or “All right. There’s plenty of (insert foods they do like) on the table for you to eat.”
I’ve found that mealtimes are so much less stressful when I know that no one will starve (there’s always at least something that everyone likes on the table, even if it means having the same fruit or a piece of toast at more meals than I’d choose), that I’m exposing us to new flavors, and that we don’t have to fight about it. Rather than a battle of wills over the food, we can spend that energy enjoying a meal together (and, let’s be honest, having a battle of wills over all the other things you do when you’ve got an opinionated toddler at home).
Pasta is a big win for lots of children, and I’ve found that it’s a great vehicle for trying new flavors. This velvety butternut squash sauce is a delicious example of that. The flavor of the sausage melts together with the creaminess of the squash, the sweet richness of the caramelized onions, and a bit of brightness from a splash of balsamic vinegar.
I roll the sausage into tiny 1-inch meatballs here before browning. That way, I can serve the little meatballs on the side for my little ones, or pile them on top of the pasta for the grown-ups. Thanks to a spin in the blender, there aren’t any texture issues to deal with here. The sauce is silky smooth and divine. For my little ones, I serve the pasta on the plate with a little dish of sauce to dip into. It’s a bit messy, but visually it keeps everything separated and allows them to explore things at their own pace without feeling like the sauce has “contaminated” their other food. My son (who hates pasta–what!?) eats this sauce with a spoon. So do I!
While it’s great for kids, this is also a great meal for a dinner party. Pasta keeps things simple, and the sauce can be made ahead of time to help streamline the process at crunch time. It’s a great change of pace for pasta night and might just surprise you.
What’s your favorite trick for helping little ones try new foods?
p.s. You can prepare this with pre-cut squash from the market, but if you prefer to cut your own (as I do), I’ve found this great tutorial by Simply Recipes to be really helpful. I use my knife in place of the vegetable peeler, but it’s a great visual for anyone who needs a little help! As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Sauce makes enough to coat 12-16 oz of pasta.
Nutrition Information Yield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 243 Total Fat 21g Saturated Fat 6g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 12g Cholesterol 35mg Sodium 745mg Carbohydrates 7g Net Carbohydrates 0g Fiber 1g Sugar 3g Sugar Alcohols 0g Protein 8g
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.