Walnut Sage Pesto Pasta with Roasted Delicata Squash
Whole wheat pasta is tossed with homemade walnut-sage pesto and topped with roasted delicata squash! This vegetarian pasta recipe comes together quickly, but is elegant enough to be served for special occasions.
Say hello to your new favorite fall pasta: walnut sage pesto pasta with roasted squash!
Due to popular demand, I’m bringing back the Weeknight Wednesday series (after mentioning it briefly when I shared this broiled salmon recipe!) and sharing another deceivingly simple pasta dish that is packed with my favorite fall flavors.
Whole wheat pasta (any shape or size!) is tossed with walnut-sage pesto and topped with crispy sage leaves and roasted delicata squash. If you’ve haven’t tried delicata squash (they are the small, oblong yellow-and-green ones!), they are one of the most weeknight friendly winter squash varieties as they require minimal fuss and zero peeling. The skin is actually thin and edible.
Aka, it does not induce the ‘oh my god, I’m going to cut my finger off chopping this‘ anxiety induced by other winter squash varieties.
The dish appears more time intensive than it actually is! If you multi-task, you can put this entire dinner on the table in less than 45 minutes! It’s healthy, high in natural fiber (thanks to the whole wheat pasta!), healthy fats (walnuts!), and very hearty.
It also happens to be vegetarian. Personally, I think it would make an excellent vegetarian main course option for the upcoming holidays.
Truthfully, I was just as much a fan of eating this dish as I was looking at it. The contrast of the beautifully green walnut-sage pesto with the caramelized delicata squash was beautiful. Top it with crispy sage leaves and a sprinkling of parmigiano-reggiano cheese and I’m in heaven.
The homemade walnut-sage pesto was my favorite part of this dish and requires only a handful of ingredients: flat-leaf parsley leaves, fresh sage, lots of walnuts, fresh garlic, and..wait for it…roasted walnut oil (in lieu of traditional olive oil)!
Walnut oil is made by, as you can guess, pressing walnuts for their natural oil. Thankfully you can buy roasted walnut oil (this brand is my personal favorite) at most grocery stores these days. It requires a bit of an investment up front, but when stored properly, it can last for long time.
This type of oil shouldn’t be used for cooking, but is amazing when added to homemade salad dressings or, in this case, adding tons of walnut flavor to this cozy fall pasta.
You could even slather this pesto on toast for a fall appetizer too –> yes, please do that!
I’m the first to admit that I’ve been a bit of a pesto snob in the past (100% basil, all the way), but I’m so happy to have finally discovered a fall and winter friendly pesto that can satisfy all of my usual pesto cravings.
If you’re wondering where the parmigiano-reggiano cheese fits into this, don’t worry! I would never leave out my favorite cheese of all time…especially in homemade pesto. That’s just not right.
Whenever I make pesto, I prefer to prepare the pesto without the cheese (this is best practice if you want to prepare the pesto ahead of time or if you are freezing an extra batch too!) and just add the freshly grated cheese as I’m tossing the pasta with the sauce.
I recommend going the extra mile and crisping up some fresh sage leaves as a garnish for this!
It requires heating up a small amount of olive oil in a frying pan and shallow frying the sage leaves in batches – but it is very simple to do and adds a lot of flavor. People will fight over them.
Nothing beats fresh sage at this time of year!
This pasta makes great leftovers (pesto pasta is my favorite leftover ever!).
You can even skip the delicata squash and serve the pasta with a side of my favorite roasted Brussels sprouts and squash side dish instead. Really, it’s totally up to you! Make it your own.
If you’re looking for other fall pasta inspiration, be sure to try this Brussels sprouts and sausage pasta – it is another incredibly time-friendly pasta recipe for this time of year!
Walnut Sage Pesto Pasta with Roasted Delicata Squash
Roasted Delicata Squash:
- 2 medium delicata squash scrubbed and rinsed well
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Walnut Sage Pesto:
- 1 packed cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
- ¾ cup toasted or raw walnut halves if you’re not using roasted walnut oil, I recommend toasting the walnuts for best flavor
- 2-3 medium garlic cloves
- 6-7 fresh, large sage leaves
- ½ (120 mL) cup roasted walnut oil I recommend La Tourangelle brand
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
For the Pasta and Serving:
- fresh sage leaves, for frying I like to garnish each serving with 3-4 leaves
- roughly ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb dried whole wheat penne or fusilli
- ½ cup finely grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese plus more for serving
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C). Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Set aside. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
- Trim the ends of the delicata squash and slice them in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out and discard the seeds. Cut each squash half into ½-inch thick half-moon slices and place on the sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread them evenly on the sheet pan so they are not touching. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping the squash halfway through, until they are tender and caramelized.
- As the squash is roasting, prepare the walnut-sage pesto. Combine the parsley leaves, walnuts, garlic cloves, and fresh sage leaves in the bowl of a large food processor, fitted with a blade attachment, and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the roasted walnut oil and process until mostly smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and transfer to a bowl. If you wish, you can add a touch of fresh lemon juice or zest too.
- Line a small plate with paper towels. In a small non-stick pan, heat a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil (about ¼ cup) over medium-high heat until hot. Fry the sage leaves, in batches, until crisp (it should only take a few seconds). Transfer with a slotted spoon to the plate and season lightly with salt. Set aside for serving.
- As the squash finishes roasting, add the dried whole wheat pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve roughly 1 cup (240 mL) of the starchy pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. Transfer the pasta back to the same pot, drizzle lightly with olive oil, and add the walnut-sage pesto and grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Toss until the pasta is evenly coated in the sauce, adding some of the reserved pasta water as needed (this amount of pesto will generously coat all of the pasta, but the starchy cooking water will help create an even creamier, better distributed sauce.
- Serve topped with roasted Delicata squash pieces and fried sage leaves. Top with grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese (as desired).
Tips for Success:
- If cannot find or do not wish to purchase roasted walnut oil for this recipe, you can substitute it with extra virgin olive oil. However, if this is the case, I highly recommend toasting the walnut halves to account for the missing flavor!
- Whenever I make pesto, I prefer to prepare the pesto without the cheese (this is best practice if you want to prepare the pesto ahead of time or if you are freezing an extra batch too!) and just add the freshly grated cheese as I’m tossing the pasta with the sauce.
52 Comments on “Walnut Sage Pesto Pasta with Roasted Delicata Squash”
Really delicious and simple. I used edamame pasta instead of the whole wheat, but otherwise, made as written.
So glad to hear that!
This was absolutely outstanding. The savory of the pesto with the sweetness of the squash was delicious. I did used olive oil instead of walnut oil, but didn’t toast the walnuts and it still turned out pretty great. Next time I will try toasting them! Thanks so much for this recipe! Will definitely be making again soon.
So happy to hear that Shawna! Thank you!
Really enjoyed this pasta (and am looking forward to the leftovers). Even my husband, who’s a bit on the picky side liked it!
That was great. I didn’t have any parsley on hand and the pesto was still good with just the walnuts and sage (and olive oil)
Love hearing that! Thanks for the feedback!!!
This recipe turned out deliciously. Thank you for posting it!
Made this last night with fresh herbs from the garden. FABULOUS! I didn’t have whole wheat pasta, but would definitely try that next time. LOVE this recipe!
Can I used pecan oil instead of walnut oil?
Why do food blogs write soooo much before getting to the recipe? It’s highly annoying and I applaud any food blogger who doesn’t follow this irritating trend.
Hi Amy! This is a blog, so by definition, blogs generally contain writing. While I sometimes write about things that are not relevant to the recipe, this is extremely rare – the writing content usually contains helpful recipe tips, cooking notes, etc. that are useful to those that go on to make the recipe. I also provide these recipes for free, and it costs a lot of money to keep this site running, so I would ask that you simply scroll down.
Found this recipe via 101 Cookbooks. I mad this and it’s FABULOUS! Thank you!
So thrilled to hear that! Thank you for taking the time to leave your feedback and review! 🙂 Hope you come back and check out some other recipes!
Found your blog by way of 101 cookbooks and this delicata pasta looks superb! Definitely going to make it this week! I was wondering if you could tell me where your plates are from—they are gorgeous!
Thank you so much! The plates/bowls in this post are from Anthropologie! They still sell them 🙂 https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/glenna-dinner-plates-set-of-4?category=kitchen-dinner-plates&color=010
Made this for dinner using Whole Foods’ fresh pumpkin tortellini. It was an excellent pairing with the walnut-sage pesto. I used 3 cloves of garlic for the pesto, which seemed key. It was DELICIOUS.
absolutely scrumptious, even though i had to make a few changes.
your recipes are amazing. in the past two weeks i have made at least 3 of your soups. wish
That makes me so happy! Thank you so much for the feedback Kristl!
Dreamy photos! Delicata squash is so simple to prepare, and so tasty!
Thank you so much Ashley!
I can’t stop smiling with every bite! I am eating this right now and I am loving every flavor. Doesn’t get much better than this when you gotta be stuck at home all day with construction workers under your house and nothing else to do but clean! This just made my day a lot brighter. Thank you!
Thank you so much Amanda! Your comment made my day! Thanks so much for trying the recipe and providing feedback, I’m thrilled that you enjoyed it! 🙂 I need to make it again. Good luck with the construction!!
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This looks fantastic Laura! The colors are so vibrant. And I’ve been all about delicata squash this fall. It’s so easy to use and delicious!
“oh my god, I’m going to cut my finger off chopping this‘ anxiety” — hahah! I thought it was just me who freaked out over cutting gigantic thick skinned squashes.
I love this salad!
I love this spin on pesto!! One of the more unique combinations I’ve seen! 😀
Hello new favorite fall pasta! This sounds amazing, I have just been thinking about how much I love sage especially in the fall and winter months.
So so gorgeous Laura! Especially that walnut-sage pesto – I love how much texture it gives, and the roasted squash is the perfect counterpart. Beautiful plate too! <3
This meal looks incredible!! I never would have thought to make sage pesto… but now I HAVE to make it!
So simple and delicious! I love it. I love the taste of squash but I also so love how beautiful it makes any dish. Those little perfectly roasted crescents get me every time. Beautiful photos!
Seriously??? Come back to Utah and make this for me ASAP! And teach me how to take gorgeous photos! STUNNING!
This is beautiful! All the fall flavors with the sage walnut pesto, oh my! You are winning the dinner game.
Made this last night after my wife sent me the link. Our dish looked and tasted amazing. This was not difficult to make.
I recently discovered and became uber obsessed with delicata squash.. I want to eat this!!!!
Isn’t it the best? I love that you don’t have to peel it! So easy.
Walnut sage pesto sounds amazing!! 🙂 This is such a great healthy dinner idea!
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Thank you so much Dani! 🙂
What a beautiful dish! Loving the gorgeous squash and something tells me this is delicious 🙂
Thank you so much Sues! Can’t quite quit the squash 🙂
What a beautiful plate… oh, what a great name idea! 😉 XO
You’re funny!!! 🙂 xo
Um, I would gladly take two bowls! Gorgeous, my dear!
New fav fall pasta indeed!! Such a cool sounding pesto. This looks awesome!
Eee! Thank you Katrina!
This is EVERYTHING! All my favorite things and then pasta. YES.
Thank you so much Tieghan!!!
This pasta looks so fresh and wonderful. OMG, and your pictures….seriously stunning!
Thank you so much Tori!!!
So colorful! What a beautiful fall dish to serve company. It really highlights seasonal produce.
Thanks so much for the kind words Karen! 🙂