Thursday, November 10, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Pesto Pasta

Kale is like the quirky aunt/uncle in the veggie family. Always looks a little frizzed out. Doesn’t easily blend into every setting. But when you’re in the right mood, it's the best addition to the party. 

I’ve always had a soft spot for kale. (Maybe cause I know or fear I’ll become that eccentric aunt someday, insisting on homemade gifts for the holidays and having just one too many colors in an outfit.) I love introducing friends and family to kale's unique taste. When raw, the leafy green tastes bitter and tough. When tossed in salt and olive oil then broiled to crispness in the oven, you can’t believe eating a food so healthy feels like gluttonously indulging in a bag of chips. I even converted my brother, a manly man snacker, to the way of the kale.

But kale pesto? The nytimes recipe intrigued me for its originality but I wasn’t quite sold. After my second go around and a few changes to the recipe, mainly in deciding to broil rather than steam the kale, I found my perfect balance of delicious uniqueness in the dish. I also added a kick of red pepper flakes to the butternut squash which tempered the squash's sweetness and blended nicely with the savory kale/walnut pesto. 

An attractive unconventional pasta dish to impress your diners and maybe make them reconsider your own lovely eccentricity. 

Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Pesto Pasta
Adapted from the nytimes

Serves 2-3 

1 1/2 pounds butternut squash
1/4  cup extra virgin olive oil (for pesto), plus more for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch ground black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 small bunch (about 1/2 pound) curly kale
8 ounces pasta 
3/4 cup toasted walnuts
2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel squash with vegetable peeler. Cut in half lengthwise. Remove seeds with spoon. Dice peeled squash into 1-inch pieces. Place diced squash on baking sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Toss together. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Toss again and spread squash out into an even layer. Roast 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and tender. During baking, toss squash once or twice for even cooking.

2. While squash is baking, bring large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta as directed. Before draining pasta, reserve about a ¼ cup of the pasta water for later. 

3. Wash kale. Remove stems and roughly chop or tear kale leaves. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and toss. Add to oven with squash. Cook 5 to 8 minutes, tossing once or twice for even cooking. The kale should feel dryer but not to the point of crispness. Remove and transfer to plate to cool. 

4. Using the same baking sheet, evenly spread walnuts. Add to oven and cook 5-8 minutes. Checking periodically to make sure walnuts are not burning. They should be a shade or two darker brown. Remove and cool. 

5. Using a food processor or a hand blender, pulse together kale, walnuts, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt until mixture is smooth. Add oil and continue to blend with food process/hand mixer until fully incorporated. Taste and add more salt as desired.  

6. Toss pasta with kale pesto. Add pasta water if the pesto seems too clumpy to help coat pasta. Add butternut squash and toss. Top with grated parmesan cheese.



  1. looks so yummy!! i love squash
    cute blog!!
    love kat

  2. great fall pasta dish! such intense colors!

  3. YUM. These photos are incredible!

    x. jill
    those ghosts

  4. great healthy dish!! I want to make this week, thank you for the recipe.

  5. I AM MAKING THIS ASAP. Oh my gosh, this looks so delicious. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

    <3 Chelsea Elizabeth

  6. So I am curious, how do you bake/broil Kale so that it tastes like a sinful bag of potato chips??
    Can you post your best recipe for that??
    I am totally enjoying your blog!

    Good luck with your cookie caper!