Caramelized butternut squash with hazelnut-sage pesto [Vegetarian]
This was a delicious, simple meal. The delicately sweet flavor of butternut pairs perfectly with the nutty, herby pesto that tops it. My only change is that I used a crumbled feta for the pesto, instead of the ricotta salata that the recipe called for. Other than that, it is pretty much perfect as a side dish, or even a main when paired with a light salad and perhaps some steamed vegetables.
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Here is a great recipe to add to your repertoire. I made this for a dinner party, and in the last minute rush forgot to mix the squash with the pesto. Honestly, the caramelized squash itself was so delicious, nobody noticed the missing ingredient. The pesto on it's own was delicious as well and I imagine it will end up adorning some pasta shells. This not only tasted great, but the vibrant orange of the caramelized squash looked great on the plate. It's very easy to make, and because the squash is cut fairly small and is roasted at a high temperature, it takes less than half the time to cook than if the squash is left cut in halves. I had a lot of competition for oven time for my party, so I caramelized the squash earlier in the day, and then re-heated it for about 10 minutes before serving it.
I found some Ontario black walnuts from Forbes Wild Foods at my farmer's market, so I used them rather than hazelnuts, which made for a slightly sweeter pesto. The sage was the last I salvaged from my garden before the temperature plunged.
This recipe is inspired by Food52.
Caramelized Butternut Squash Wedges with a Sage Hazelnut Pesto
Sage, Hazelnut, Ricotta Salata Pesto:
1/4 cup sage, chopped
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp ricotta salata, crumbled or chopped until a medium fine crumble
1-2 butternut squashes [about 3.5 lbs total when unpeeled]
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne, depending on taste
1. Preheat the oven to 500 and place a rack in the lowest slot in the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Peel the butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut each squash half in half width-wise, right where the slender part curves out to the bulge. Cut each quarter into about 1 inch wedges (see picture) and place in a bowl.
3. Toss squash with olive oil, sugar, salt, and cayenne. Place in a single layer on baking sheet. Roast for 10-15 minutes until caramelized. Remove from oven and flip over. Bake another 10-15 minutes until caramelized on the other side and cooked through. The pieces on the edges of the baking sheet will caramelize first so you want to move around during the baking time.
4. While the squash is roasting, make the pesto: warm 3 tablespoons olive oil, sage, and garlic in a small pan over very low heat just until the oil bubbles. Pour in a small bowl, reserving the garlic clove. Place the toasted hazelnuts in mini food processor along with the garlic clove and process until a fine crumble and add to the bowl (alternatively, you can do by hand or in a mortar and pestle).
Add the cheese to the bowl along with 1-2 tablespoons more olive oil and stir until combined and salt to taste. This is not a traditional pesto - more nutty than herby and not so much oil.
5. Once the squash is roasted, place in a large bowl and toss with pesto to taste.