This roasted butternut squash pasta with sage and hazelnut pesto is bursting with fall vibes! Nothing says autumn quite like roasted butternut squash. And paired with a sage infused hazelnut pesto, you’ve got the ultimate comfort food dish. One that will keep you coming back for more!
The sweet, caramelised squash pairs perfectly with earthy sage and nutty roasted hazelnuts, and a little garlic, lemon and parmesan balance out the dish perfectly. And if you’re up for it, adding roasted chestnuts to the mix elevates it even more, with their subtle, nutty sweetness. Topped with fried sage leaves, it’s the perfect fall meal.
Roasted butternut squash pasta main ingredients
A few notes about the key ingredients…
Winter squash — Butternut squash is one of my all time favourite winter squashes, as it has a mild taste, delicate, smooth texture that makes it so versatile for pasta dishes, soups or roasted and added to salads. If you happen to stumble across it, try subbing it out with delicate (sweet dumpling) squash. Great, thing is you can also enjoy it with the skin, as with Hokkaido pumpkin. Which would also be my next choice in place of butternut squash.
Roasted chestnuts — Love them or leave them, this recipe tastes fantastic with or without. They add a little nuttiness and mild sweetness, that is reminiscent of the Christmas market season.
Sage — Aromatic sage has an affinity for pumpkin and winter squash. It adds an earthy, woodsy, citrusy, warm autumn flavour to this dish. Not to be missed!
Hazelnuts — Rich, sweet, nutty. If you’re in a pinch, try substituting them with lightly roasted almonds or pine nuts.
Garlic — What every pesto needs.
Honey — Just a smidgen enhances the sweetness of the pumpkin.
Parmesan — Adds the perfect amount of umami flavour and richness. Try pecorino if you prefer.
Extra-virgin olive oil — For richness.
Sea salt and fresh black pepper — They make the flavours pop!
Recipe preparation tips
Half a cup (generous handful) of sage leaves may sound like a lot, but they are lightly braised in oil, along with the garlic, which tones down the flavour and also infused the oil with the sage and garlic aroma.
This is also why I like to top the pasta with fried sage leaves, lightly frying them in a little olive oil, crispens them up and also subdues their normally strong flavour.
Depending on how quickly you work in the kitchen, you can also make the pesto while the butternut squash roasts. In the method below, it is prepared first so that the rest of the dish can be made at a relaxed pace. And it gives you a chance to also make a side dish or salad to serve along with the pasta.
More autumn pasta recipes
If you love this butternut squash pasta recipe, try one of these delicious pastas next:
- Sicilian Pasta with Sardines, Capers & Breadcrumbs
- Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells
- Tagliatelle Pasta with Mushrooms and Thyme Sauce
- Pasta con Salsiccia with Creamy Tomato Sauce
Butternut Squash Pasta With Sage-Hazelnut-Pesto
For the pesto:
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
- 5 g fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped (about half a cup loose leaves)
- 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- Freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 a lemon (ca. 2 tablespoons)
- 1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts (50 g)
- 1 teaspoon honey (e.g. acacia honey)
- 35 grams finely grated parmesan
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the roasted squash:
- 1 butternut squash (ca. 1kg), peeled, cored and cut into 1,5 cm pieces
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 40 g cooked chestnuts, coarsely chopped (6 pieces) (optional)
- Sea salt
- 400 g dried pasta of choice
- Fresh sage leaves, fried in olive oil until crisp and patted dry with a paper towel
- Freshly grated parmesan
- Chili flakes
For the pesto:
In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium to medium-low heat. Add the sage and garlic and cook, stirring often, allowing the mixture lightly bubble, stirring often, reducing heat if necessary, until fragrant but not browned, about 5-6 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool slightly.
In the bowl of a food processor, add the roasted hazelnuts and pulse until they reach a fine consistency.
Add the garlic-sage-oil mixture, along with the honey, lemon juice, and pulse into a coarse paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Finally, add the cheese, plus an extra drizzle of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Pulse again to combine. Taste and add more seasoning, lemon or honey, as desired.
For the roasted squash:
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F/200°C (180° fan-assisted) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Transfer the the squash to the prepared baking sheet, drizzle with oil and toss until evenly coated. Spread in an even layer without crowding and season with salt. Roast for 15 minutes, then add the chestnuts (if using) and give everything a toss. Cook for another 10 minutes, or until the squash is tender and slightly coloured.
Whole the squash roasts, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Just before draining, remove 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the pasta cooking water. Drain and return to the pot.
Add the pesto, the roasted squash and 1-2 tablespoons pasta cooking water to the pot with the pasta and toss gently to combine. If desired, thin the pasta sauce with a little more of the reserved cooking water.
Divide the pasta between plates. Top with fried sage leaves. Serve with freshly grated parmesan and some chili flakes, if desired.
- Chestnuts add a little nuttiness and mild sweetness. However, if you do not have cooked chestnuts on hand, simply skip them, as this pasta recipe also takes fantastic without them.
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