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. - melissav —melissav
Test Kitchen Notes
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&M —The Editors
Sage, Hazelnut, Ricotta Salata Pesto
olive oil (up to 5 tablespoons)
clove garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons ricotta salata, crumbled or chopped until a medium fine crumble
butternut squashes [about 3.5 lbs total when unpeeled]
cayenne, depending on taste (up to 1/2 teaspoon)
Preheat the oven to 500 and place a rack in the lowest slot in the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
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.
Toss squash with olive oil, sugar, salt, and cayenne. Place in a single layer on baking sheet.
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.
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.
Once the squash is roasted, place in a large bowl and toss with pesto to taste. Dig in.