Caramelized Butternut Squash Wedges with a Sage Hazelnut Pesto

By • October 26, 2010 • 116 Comments

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Author Notes: Sage and butternut squash are a classic pairing. This is my riff on that pairing - a combination of squash wedges roasted at a very high heat topped with a hazelnut, sage, and ricotta salata pesto-ish topping. The idea to make a pesto using sage was inspired by the sage pesto in the Zuni Cafe Cookbook. The finished dish is great hot or at room temperature. - melissavmelissav

Food52 Review: Remember that potato chip commercial that goes: "Betcha can't eat just one?" Well, that's kind of how we felt, eating these squash wedges right out of the bowl. With our fingers. In a 500-degree oven, melissav's squash develops gorgeous bronzed edges and an almost candied interior. A hint of cayenne brings a subtle kick. The pesto, almost impossibly fragrant, is rich and subtle at the same time. It's garlicky without being overpowering, the toasted hazelnuts give it richness and depth, and the ricotta salata lends the otherwise earthy pesto a fresh salinity. We dare you to eat just one wedge. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 4

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 tablespoons ricotta salata, crumbled or chopped until a medium fine crumble
  • salt

Butternut Squash

  • 2 butternut squashes [about 3.5 lbs total when unpeeled]
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoons 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.
  2. Peel the butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut each squash half in half widthwise, 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.
  4. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes until caramelized. Remove from oven and flip over. Bake another 10 to 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.
  5. 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 to 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.
  6. Once the squash is roasted, place in a large bowl and toss with pesto to taste. Dig in.
Jump to Comments (116)

Tags: butternut squash, hazelnuts, Holidays, pesto, sage, Thanksgiving, travels well

Comments (116) Questions (9)

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15 days ago Samantha Arnstadt

Soooo good. We made this for Thanksgiving and it turned out amazing. It was the most popular dish on the table. Thank you!

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about 1 month ago Sharon Flor

Very yummy. Just made it for dinner tonight. The ricotta salata was not necessary and next time (if I don't have any on hand) I might just leave it out. I thought it would melt with the warm oil or the hot butternut squash, but it stayed intact.

Small_msm

about 1 month ago Marie

Sure looks great! I usually cube the butternut squash and bake it (paprika and olive oil) Another wonderful way to eat this yummy squash!!

Stringio

about 1 month ago Kira Fickenscher

This was unbelievably good!! I didn't have hazelnuts so used cashews - still great. I had to search 4 grocery stores for Ricotta Salata but was pleasantly surprised to learn it's not that expensive of a cheese. Now I just need to figure out how to use the rest of it. :-P

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about 1 month ago DellaConsuela

I can't believe how good this is! got some butternut squash in my CSA box and was looking for something new. I used pecans instead of hazelnuts (I live in the south and they're always on hand). Fabulous! would definitely make for company

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2 months ago Callie Baker

This was AMAZING! I ended up just finely chopping the garlic and putting that in the olive oil with sage, let that cook a few minutes and then pour that over the nuts and added cheese. I was without a food processor and I really liked the nutty taste this provided it was really great.

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5 months ago jungli_beleza

yes! made for a party; everyone consumed to the last tiny bit!

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9 months ago Josie Marsh

So, so delicious! We'll definitely be making this many more times! (I used feta in place off the ricotta).

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12 months ago ksschapp

Made this for Thanksgiving and even my picky eaters loved it. Looking forward to finding other uses for the pesto.

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about 1 year ago erica

Just made this and loved it! Beautiful too!

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over 1 year ago gotham gourmand

Absolutely delicious! I made this as a side dish for a small dinner party at my house and we all literally fought over the last serving. Thank you for sharing this yummy recipe!

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almost 2 years ago ChefFace

yummm, made this for a large crowd, rave reviews, thank you!

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almost 2 years ago lorinarlock

Congrats on this! http://www.purewow.com...

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about 2 years ago Chef Tracy D

This was excellent... loved the pesto!

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almost 3 years ago Trillinchick

I am confused about the garlic in the ingredients and recipe. It calls for 1 clove of garlic. It says to mix the garlic with olive oil and sage, and to reserve 1 clove of garlic? I don't understand - 1 clove or 2? I went to the question section first but none them appeared to have been answered. Help us out, please!
Thank you.

Ry_400

almost 3 years ago melissav

After you warm the garlic with the sage and oil, you put the sage and oil in a bowl. You reserve the garlic clove because you add it to the processor with the nuts. I hope this helps.

Ry_400

almost 3 years ago melissav

You warm the garlic clove with the sage and oil. Once warmed, you put the sage and oil in a bowl. You reserve the garlic clove after it is warmed because you will be adding it to the processor with the nuts in the next step. Hope this helps.

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

I made this for Thanksgiving, and my husband declared it the star of the meal! I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to try it! What a fabulous combination of flavors and textures...I'll be making this again and again.

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about 3 years ago fearlessem

So glad this got re-highlighted on the site. I made it last year, it was super awesome, and then I promptly forgot about it. Can't wait to make it again!

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about 3 years ago Miamac

I made this last winter and it was so amazingly good that my sister still mentions it. It's all we ate for dinner that night. Now that Thanksgiving approaches, it's at the top of my list! so good and so easy!

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about 3 years ago Atlanticgull

Wow. Wow. Wow.

This just earned a much desired spot on a very competitive T-day table. You are a genius.

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about 3 years ago Atlanticgull

Wow. Wow. Wow.

This just earned a much desired spot on a very competitive T-day table. You are a genius.

Mlt_yogateau_1

about 3 years ago mtrelaun

Did you know that this recipe makes the most delicious soup ever? Last night I puréed the roasted squash with chicken stock, and it was fab.

Ry_400

about 3 years ago melissav

Great idea. Did you top it with some of the pesto or blend the pesto into the soup?

Ry_400

about 3 years ago melissav

Great idea. Did you puree the pesto with the soup or use it as a topping? I'm going to give this idea a whirl . . .

Mlt_yogateau_1

about 3 years ago mtrelaun

@melissav, I've made it into soup twice. The first time, I topped it with the pesto. The second time, I didn't have the ingredients for the pesto so I put a blob of Greek yoghurt and some bacon crumbles on top. Fab both times!

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about 3 years ago liz.wellbelovedstone

LOVED this dish! Served it over a garlic couscous. Will be making it again very soon! Thank you for posting this (I got it from Whole Foods' page yesterday).

Henrykiss

over 3 years ago arielleclementine

what a wonderful recipe! this is probably the most delicious butternut squash i've ever had. thanks so much for sharing :)

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over 3 years ago parker

I have an obsession for butternut squash ravioli, but I'm usually disappointed by its blandness. So I did an "inside out" version, dumping this whole dish into a big bowl of linguini. Big flavour at last - worked great!

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over 3 years ago dymnyno

If you baked it at lower heat as I did for my Spicy Butternut Salad it would caramelize better and not burn (as it appears from your picture yours did). I have been making my version a year before the contest and it is perfect every time! It looks like Sara Schatz styled yours after my photo.

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almost 4 years ago tburns01

I made this last night with some Butternut squash from our CSA and it was FABULOUS!! It was one of the best squash recipes I have ever tried. I will definitely make it again as we have an over abundance of butternut squash in our root cellar.

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almost 4 years ago healthierkitchen

I made this a while back and loved it and just made it again this past weekend for a dinner party and I just wanted to mention again how delicious this combination is. The flavors really balance each other. Really delicious!

Vietnam_market

almost 4 years ago safenervine

This was a spectacular holiday treat! Thanks for the recipe.

Sdc12274

almost 4 years ago Erin K

This recipe caught my eye and I could not wait to try it. I made it without the pesto and added it to my beef stew. Absolutely fabulous!

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about 4 years ago MadeInMaine

It's crunch time now, and I'm making this for a shindig on Tuesday night. Is there any special trick to toasting the hazelnuts? Temperature? Time? Thanks and holiday wishes to all!

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

You can toast them a number of different ways - You can put a small fry pan over low heat and dump in the nuts and stir them from time to time until they start to smell and look toasty. You can also do the same in the oven or toaster over at 325. I'd check on them after 3-5 minutes.

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about 4 years ago avimom

Made it for a Hanukkah party last weekend. Could not find hazelnuts or ricotta salata and substituted filberts and gorgonzola. Was delish, although I'm sure the original is better. Was the perfect dish to bring and serve at room temperature. The touch of cayenne was brilliant.

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about 4 years ago Mprize

Without any hyperbole, I must say that this is one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. Very simple as well and you really can do it with a mortar and pestle, which makes it nice and chunky. Only think I didn't get quite right was that my bnut squash didn't hold its nice moon shapes....although I may have overcrowded the baking sheets a bit. Thanks so much for such a GREAT recipe!

Cakes

about 4 years ago Bevi

I made this as well. The touch of cayenne pepper gave a wonderful afterheat, and the pesto was so good that I am thinking of trying it on pasta, and using it to flavor a quiche.

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about 4 years ago castironmaiden

I made this for Thanksgiving and it was divine! The sage pulled it together beautifully with the rest of the meal.

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about 4 years ago ehrrin

I made this for Thanksgiving, and it was the hit of the table! So delicious. Unfortunately all the leftovers got snapped up before I had a chance to set some aside. I'll be making this again soon.

Noelle2

about 4 years ago enbe

We couldn't find ricotta salata so subbed it for cotija, which I think worked well.
Made a double recipe for ~16 people for a side and we had MORE than enough. Then again it was one of 10 sides. This was delicious and really did travel well (my cake on the other hand, not so much).
Thanks!

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about 4 years ago AnnP

This was fantastic!!! Made it last night and ignored everything else on my plate. Only problem, my family didn't eat it - squash phobia - so I will need a new family.

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about 4 years ago MadeInMaine

Does this really serve only FOUR people as a side dish? Seems to me that 3 1/2 pounds of squash would be enough for at least double that. I'm planning to make this and take it to a potluck for 20 people, where it will be one among three or four other side dishes, so I'm guessing that each person will take one or two pieces.... Any idea as to quantities? Should I double the recipe? Triple it? HELP!

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

My husband and I can finish off one butternut squash by ourselves but we typically eat it as the sole side to a light dinner (like a piece of fish). At a potluck with 3-4 other side dishes, you can probably figure on four or five people per squash since as you mention each person will only take a slice or two. I think if you double it, you will have more than enough.

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about 4 years ago MadeInMaine

Thanks so much! I'm looking forward to making this... and tasting it! :))

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about 4 years ago pieceocake

Would I be amiss if I roasted the squash with eggplant, sweet potatoes, and red bell peppers? I think all of them would benefit from a little toss in the Sage Pesto. Call me a renegade, but I am going to try it!

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

Sounds great to me. Hope it turned out well.

Gator_cake

about 4 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

My husband said this was the best butternut squash EVER. Thanks for a delicious recipe.

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about 4 years ago healthierkitchen

Made this last night - seriously delicious! I don't usually like ricotta salata, I think because I've bought the harder kind in the past. This time I had a soft one and the pesto was terrific. Thanks.

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about 4 years ago ehrrin

Totally making this for Thanksgiving dinner. Cannot wait to try it (and impress the family!).

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about 4 years ago Jennifer Ann

Thank you! I just made this as a little appetizer for dinner and it is so amazing.

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about 4 years ago Laura Minkler

I plan on making this-- it looks amazing! Unfortunately I don't have access to ricotta salata. Would there be another cheese that'd work well in its place?

Gator_cake

about 4 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Another recipe I've seen that uses ricotta salata suggests either French feta, pecorino romano, or cotija. For this recipe i think the pecorino would be too hard, but the cotija or feta would work well.

Steve_dunn02

about 4 years ago Oui, Chef

Congratulations! This is a fabulous looking dish, I plan on making it for a dinner party this weekend. - S

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

Thank you everyone. So glad everyone is enjoying this recipe. By the way, we had some of the pesto on some thick cut pork chops last night and it was muy bueno!

Bike2

about 4 years ago Sagegreen

Love your recipe. Congrats on the win!

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about 4 years ago KelseyTheNaptimeChef

Great recipe, congrats!

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about 4 years ago Lizthechef

Best congratulations for a well-deserved winner!!

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about 4 years ago LazizaBites

Congrats! it's a wonderful recipe!

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about 4 years ago cheese1227

Fabulous recipe. Congrats.

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about 4 years ago gingerroot

Congrats melissav!! I can't wait to make this.

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about 4 years ago lorinarlock

Congratulations! It's really delicious!

Mrs._larkin_370

about 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

congrats on the win, melissav!!

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about 4 years ago ABCDELICIOUS

i tried this the other night and it was spectacular. i ended up substituting fresh roasted chestnuts for the hazelnuts and was over the moon with the results. i plan on using the pesto with homemade butternut squash ravioli as a first course for thanksgiving.

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about 4 years ago lapadia

Congratulations! I have this recipe on my "to make" list...

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about 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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about 4 years ago Jennine

This was great! Made it tonight for dinner and I will definitely be making it again soon. I didn't have ricotta salata so I used goat cheese instead. Congrats on being a finalist! Well deserved.

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about 4 years ago Jesslovestocook

This dish is superb. It's like nothing I have ever had before and I mean that in the best sort of way. Two lovely people you & I both know (think Fairway) made this as a side dish when they hosted my husband and I for dinner this past weekend. I was impressed by how something as plain as butternush squash could be transformed into such devine yumminess. I loved it so much I was talking about it the next day. Kudos to you for coming up with a great recipe!

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

Thanks for your kind words and glad you enjoyed dinner with Adam and Leslie.

Jwl_001

about 4 years ago jwlucas

Wow, this sounds so good. I think this will be part of our Thanksgiving feast.

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about 4 years ago Elycooks

Oh my, this is divine! Has anyone tried freezing the pesto? What do you think, good idea or not?

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

So glad you liked it. I haven't tried freezing the pesto so I am not sure how it would hold up; perhaps it would be best if you freezed it without cheese? Let me know how it turns out if you freeze it.

Kroka_kitchen

about 4 years ago maryvelasquez

What a wonderful dish! I love the flavor combination. And I can attest to the fact that the pesto is very good with fish, too.

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

Thank you. I am planning on whipping up another batch to tomorrow to serve with some pork chops.

Flavor_drizzles_art

about 4 years ago Flavor Drizzles

I Love the addition of the ricotta salata. Butternut squash is a fall favorite in my kitchen, and it can only get better with this awesome recipe. Way to go melissav!!

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

Thank you!

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about 4 years ago karen selznick

OMG... This was incredible! I made this tonight and it was fabulous. Everyone was eating the crumbs and went home with the receipe. I gave you all the credit!

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

Hi Karen - so glad you tried it and it was a hit!

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about 4 years ago npsyched

What a delicious picture to wake up to:o)...Yummy!!

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about 4 years ago ctgal

Question: Although I still have sage growing in my herb box outside, I'm not a big fan of it. Do you think another herb would work as well. I know sage goes w/ butternut sq., but... Marjoram? I still have that and garlic chives growing. Any suggestions anyone?

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

I haven't tried it without any other herbs but I am sure it would work with any other hearty herb that pairs well with butternut squash. If you try a different herb, please do let me know how it turns out.

Monkeys

about 4 years ago monkeymom

congrats melissav! You are studly!

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

Thanks Monkey Mom! You're pretty studly yourself! Your eggplant is due for another appearance on our table soon.

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about 4 years ago lorinarlock

This sounds really awesome. My mouth watered reading the description. I wish I had a wood-burning oven to try it in.

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

A wood burning stove would awesome with this. Wish I had one too. . .

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about 4 years ago gingerroot

This looks amazing. I've had spiced butternut wedges before and bet with your pesto this is out of this world. Congrats on being a finalist!

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

Thank you!

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about 4 years ago allie

What a great recipe -- squash wedges are such a great idea (I do cubes but hate how they disappear into nothing...) & pesto looks wonderful...

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

I agree with the cubes. . . it is a fine line between perfect and too mushy. Hope you try it.

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about 4 years ago dymnyno

I am looking forward to trying your version...my salad started with the same ingredients; sliced butternut, olive oil, sugar and cayenne. Our cooking times are very different. I am going to try your hot and quick cooking time versus my slower carmelizing of the squash.

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

Thank you Mary. Your salad looks beautiful.

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about 4 years ago Midge

Definitely a contender for my Thanksgiving menu. Way to go melissav.

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

Thank you.

Me2

about 4 years ago TheThinChef

YUM, this sounds really wonderful. Congrats on being a finalist!

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

Thanks!

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about 4 years ago ENunn

I'm with Tom: so exactly the way I want to eat Butternut squash!

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

Let me know how you like it if you give it a whirl.

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about 4 years ago cookinginvictoria

Congrats on being a finalist. I love hazelnuts, and the idea of a pesto made with them sounds seriously yummy. Hope to try this dish soon.

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

Thank you for your comments and I hope you try it.

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about 4 years ago nutritioulicious

This recipe looks great! I'm definitely going to try it out. Congrats on being a finalist!

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

Thank you.

Pict0051

about 4 years ago Annelle

Sounds absolutely wonderful! Vegetable or hot appetizer! Can't wait.

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

Let me know how it turns out if you try it.

Bike2

about 4 years ago Sagegreen

Congrats on being a finalist! So many amazing recipes last week to sort through, this must have been really interesting for the editors. Love the pesto twist.

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

Hope you try it, Sagegreen. I always find your recipes very interesting and creative!

Cakes

about 4 years ago Bevi

This looks like it can easily be doubled. I like that at room temperature it's still really good. This will free up some oven space on the Bird Day!

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

It absolutely can be doubled, tripled, or even halved.

Mrs._larkin_370

about 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Wow, this looks really good! It's gonna be a tasty Thanksgiving. Congrats on the EP and on being a finalist. The pesto would be great over pasta, too, I think!

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

I agree, great idea.

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about 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations! I'm so happy for you!

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

Thank you!

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about 4 years ago cheese1227

Oh my, my! In the jockeying for oven time on Thanksgiving, I am not sure I can a 500 degree oven in place for this. How does it do if I caramelize the squash before hand and reheat it in a more moderate oven just before service?

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

I think it would be fine. I actually really liked it at room temp as well.

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about 4 years ago thirschfeld

I had a sneaking suspicion this one would be in the finals. In fact I already made it and love it and give it a vote of approval fo sho. I like the pesto a lot.

Ry_400

about 4 years ago melissav

Thanks, Tom. That means a lot coming from you! The pesto is good, isn't it? We ate the leftover on top of some fish the next night and really enjoyed it and, in the interest of full disclosure, I actually ate a lot of it right out of the bowl!