Lemon-Basil Squash Pasta Recipe

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This lemon-basil squash pasta recipe is so easy to make, and it’s the perfect weeknight vegan dinner recipe!

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This meal is the perfect transition from summer to fall. If you still have summer basil but you’re also eyeing up all the squash at the grocery stores, this squash pasta recipe is for you.

What do I love about it? You only need a few ingredients! It doesn’t go easy on the lemon, either. You definitely get a nice kick from the sauce, but the sweetness of the squash mellows it out. Depending on how sour your lemon is, you might also want to consider adding a drizzle of maple syrup or a sprinkle of granulated sugar to the sauce. You can use a Meyer lemon which is a little softer than a traditional yellow lemon.

How to make this lemon-basil squash pasta recipe:

You’re just a few ingredients and a few steps away from a gorgeous, filling vegan dinner with this recipe.

Here’s what you need:

  • Cooking oil, neutral oil, preferably
  • Flaky sea salt, like Maldon
  • A big lemon
  • Large delicata squash
  • Plant-based butter (dairy, if you aren’t vegan!)
  • Maple syrup or sugar, if needed
  • 16 ounces Mafaldine pasta or use linguine
  • Fresh basil
  • Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste
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If you want to get even bigger flavor, try using seasoning salt on your squash instead of just salt and pepper. Roasted garlic pepper is a great place to start!

There are just a few steps for this recipe:

  1. Make a super simple citrus salt
  2. Fry the squash slices until golden brown on both sides
  3. Boil up some pasta until 2-3 minutes shy of what the package recommends
  4. Make the sauce with lemon juice, plant-based butter, maple syrup, and the pasta cooking water
  5. Add the fresh basil and the cooked pasta to the sauce and boil it in the sauce until it’s al dente
  6. Add those squash slices and cook just a minute or two more

That’s it! From there, simply plate it up and garnish it with some fresh basil leaves and a sprinkle of that citrus salt. So easy!

Looking for more vegan recipes? Check out my archives or visit my vegan recipe blog, Exploring Vegan!

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Lemon-Basil Squash Pasta Recipe

This lemon-basil squash pasta recipe is so easy to make, and it's the perfect weeknight vegan dinner recipe!
5 from 10 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 605kcal


  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
  • 2 tablespoons flaky sea salt
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 large delicata squash
  • 3 tablespoons plant-based butter
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or granulated sugar optional
  • 16 ounces Mafaldine pasta or use linguine
  • .75 ounces fresh basil thinly sliced, a few leaves reserved for garnish
  • Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste


Prepare the lemon and delicata squash:

  • Zest the lemon into a bowl. Juice the lemon into a separate bowl and discard the seeds. Trim the delicata squash and cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Slice each half of the squash crosswise into ½-inch thick half-moons.

Make the citrus salt:

  • Add the flaky sea salt to the bowl of lemon zest and toss to combine. Set aside.

Cook the squash:

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of neutral oil in a wide pot over medium-high heat. Add the squash slices in an even layer. Season all over with salt and pepper. Cook without moving for 5 minutes until golden brown.
  • Flip and season again with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 5 minutes until golden brown. The squash should be fork-tender. Don’t be afraid to crank the heat during the last minute or so of cooking to get those nice caramelized edges. Remove the squash from the pot and transfer it to a plate.

Boil the pasta:

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until 2–3 minutes under what the package recommends. Scoop out 2 cups of pasta cooking water and drain the pasta.

Finish the sauce:

  • Drain off excess oil from the pot used to cook the squash. Add the lemon juice, plant-based butter, and maple syrup if using. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 5–6 minutes until it begins to reduce and thicken. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.
  • Pour in 1½ cups of the pasta cooking water and bring to a boil. Add the sliced basil and the drained pasta and cook, tossing regularly, until the sauce is thickened and the pasta is al dente, about 3 minutes. If needed, add the remaining ½ cup of pasta cooking water.
  • Gently add the cooked squash and toss gently to combine. Be careful not to break up the squash too much. Taste and season once more to your preferences.

To serve:

  • Divide the cooked pasta and squash between shallow bowls. Garnish with citrus salt and a few basil leaves. Enjoy!


Calories: 605kcal | Carbohydrates: 97g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 17g | Sodium: 81mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin C: 29mg
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  1. Hi – I made this recipe last evening and it was inedible due to the amount of salt. I have some questions: 1) what is the purpose of the lemon zest and Maldon salt? I didn’t know what to do with it so I threw it in the sauce. Huge mistake. It was so salty it ruined the dish; and 2) why 1 lb of pasta? I used 1/2 to 3/4 lb of the pasta bc I was scared that the amount of sauce was not going to be enough.
    The other ingredient I added was sauteed shrimp (which would’ve topped the whole recipe off. Unfortunately, I had to throw everything away. Concept is good; however, execution needs some revising.

    1. Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear this!

      To answer your questions: The lemon zest salt is a finishing salt. You make it in the first step to allow the salt a little time to dry out the citrus zest and it’s sprinkled over each dish at service under the “To Serve” directions. It’s not intended to be added to the sauce. Any extra citrus salt will last up to 3 months in an air-tight container on your counter or in your pantry.

      The one pound of pasta worked well with 1.5–2 cups pasta water, 3 tablespoons butter, maple, and lemon juice. I’m not sure how much shrimp you added, but that would impact how much sauce you need. As I didn’t test this recipe with additional ingredients, I’m not sure how much additional sauce ingredients you’d need. I will add that this is a lightly sauced pasta dish; more of like a summer pasta.

      That said, I do like where your head was at and I’ll have to try a version of this with shrimp!

      Again, I’m very sorry this one didn’t work out and I hope you’ll give the shrimp version a try when I release it 🙂 I’ll take a look at the directions of this recipe and see if there are any tweaks I can make.

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