Walnut Sage Pesto Pasta with Roasted Delicata Squash
Yield: 4- 6 Servings
Whole wheat pasta is tossed with homemade walnut sage pesto and topped with roasted delicata squash! This seasonal vegetarian dish comes together quickly, but is elegant enough to be served for special occasions.
fresh sage leaves, for fryingI like to garnish each serving with 3-4 leaves
roughly ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1lbdried whole wheat penne or fusilli
½cupfinely grated parmigiano-reggiano cheeseplus 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.