Make Ahead

Caramelized Butternut Squash Wedges With Sage-Hazelnut Pesto

October 26, 2010
13 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4
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. —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

What You'll Need
  • Sage, Hazelnut, Ricotta Salata Pesto
  • 1/4 cup sage, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (up to 5 tablespoons)
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup
    2 tablespoons ricotta salata, crumbled or chopped until a medium fine crumble

  • 1 pinch salt
  • Butternut Squash
  • 2 butternut squashes [about 3.5 lbs total when unpeeled]
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, depending on taste (up to 1/2 teaspoon)
  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.
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130 Reviews

Rachel S. December 16, 2023
I've had these on my radar for years and years now and finally made them this Thanksgiving. SO good; they were the best-received side of the night. Followed the recipe exactly. I did make them about a week later again using macadamia nuts and I personally preferred the hazelnuts, though some comments mentioned Brazil nuts being a solid option so I'll be trying that in the future. Either way, really incredible recipe.
brandonnyc November 20, 2022
Once incorporated into the Thanksgiving menu a decade ago, it hasn't budged: the mere suggestion of an alternative elicits panic, glowers and threats of divorce. Because of a hazelnut allergy in the family, I use Brazil nuts, with no sacrifice of deliciousness.
JodyO February 3, 2022
Absolutely delicious! Thank you! I didn't have hazelnuts, so substituted with Pecans and it was still delicious.
RossB January 8, 2020
It was a hit! I looked like a genius! Modifications I made: uncharacteristically, I used pre cut chunks of butternut squash; toasted raw hazelnuts in microwave so I didn’t burn ANY; used more garlic; used fresh and dried sage. Last night I went to make this and didn’t have the squash I thought, so I used (pressure cooked) Jerusalem artichokes, then briefly broiled. It’s also a terrific combination.
Lisasaintlouis October 5, 2018
Can someone clarify the ingredient list for the pesto? My monitor shows that after the hazelnuts I need 1/4 cup of something that does not appear. Next is listed 2 tablespoons of ricotta salata. Is that meant to be 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of the cheese or am I missing an ingredient?
jungli_beleza October 5, 2018
1/3 cup Hazelnuts, toasted
1/4 cup ricotta salata, 2 tbsps. Of which should be medium fine crumbles (to be used as a finishing topping with the pesto).
Andrew A. November 14, 2017
Has anyone tried this with cubed butternut squash? I'm feeding 12 and think it would be much easier to cube and roast. Thoughts?
Cheryl November 14, 2017
I haven't tried that way (but think I will the next time). love this and made this several times and the slices are awkward to eat. Plus if it was cubed, the pesto and cheese could be more evenly distributed. Just make sure the cubes don't get overdone.
Andrew A. November 14, 2017
I think I'll try it that way - I'll let you know how it turns out!
Ann.T November 27, 2016
Every Thanksgiving, I like to try a new side dish out along with the usual dishes. Everyone loved this, and voted it into regular rotation!

I did as others did and adjusted per what I had on hand (walnuts and feta instead of hazelnuts and ricotta salata).

I bet this will also be a huge hit at the holiday potluck, as it can be served at room temp.
Cheryl February 12, 2016
Oh my that was wonderful! Used feta in a very small crumble.
cindy November 22, 2015
Hi I am going to make this for my side to bring to my in laws. There are quite a few of us, and even in their large kitchen it gets pretty crowded. Could you give me suggestions for preparing this ahead of time and re heating it when it's dinner time. Thanks so much! Cindy
Susan November 3, 2015
This was on our thanksgiving menu last year and it was well enjoyed. I was thinking of making it again this year. This time for my husband's family. The only issue is that there are two people in his family with tree nut allergy. Any suggestions for subbing the hazelnuts? I was considering pepitas or sunflower seeds. Thoughts?
epicharis October 12, 2015
This was incredible. I made a double batch of the pesto because I figured it would be tempting and sure enough, my boyfriend and I are spreading it on toast. The squash is just perfect. Thank you for this!
Samantha A. December 3, 2014
Soooo good. We made this for Thanksgiving and it turned out amazing. It was the most popular dish on the table. Thank you!
Sharon F. November 15, 2014
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.
Marie November 15, 2014
Sure looks great! I usually cube the butternut squash and bake it (paprika and olive oil) Another wonderful way to eat this yummy squash!!
Kira F. November 4, 2014
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
DellaConsuela October 24, 2014
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
Callie H. October 6, 2014
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.
jungli_beleza July 18, 2014
yes! made for a party; everyone consumed to the last tiny bit!
Josie M. March 22, 2014
So, so delicious! We'll definitely be making this many more times! (I used feta in place off the ricotta).
ksschapp January 4, 2014
Made this for Thanksgiving and even my picky eaters loved it. Looking forward to finding other uses for the pesto.