This pasta dish is tossed with earthy kale pesto and sweet, caramelized roasted acorn squash, then topped with garlicky breadcrumbs for an irresistible crunch.
I recently gave my traditional basil pesto recipe a fall makeover, swapping the basil for kale and sage, and the pine nuts for walnuts, and now I want to put this kale pesto on everything. It’s delish drizzled over roasted acorn squash and topped with plump, tart cherries and toasted walnuts in this recipe here, but it’s also killer tossed with long strands of pasta and sweet, roasted acorn squash.
This simple pasta works great as a main course, but could easily be enjoyed as a side. To make, whip up some kale pesto, which comes together in 5 minutes. Then roast some acorn squash rings (skin-on), cook the pasta, and toast up some garlicky Panko breadcrumbs. The last step is to toss the hot tendrils of pasta in the pesto and add it to a large serving bowl with the roasted squash. Top it with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs for extra umami flavor and crunch!
What’s in This Pasta Recipe
This pasta with kale pesto, roasted acorn squash, and garlicky breadcrumbs is a super satisfying fall meal that doesn’t require many ingredients.
Here’s’ what you’ll need:
- Long pasta—try linguine, spaghetti, or bucatini
- Kale pesto (lacinato kale known as dinosaur kale, sage, garlic, Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice)
- Acorn squash
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Parmesan cheese
- Panko breadcrumbs
First, Roast the Acorn Squash
Grab your sharpest knife and slice. Cut the squash in half, lengthwise, stem to stem. Use a sturdy spoon to scrape and scoop out the insides and discard them. Slice each squash halve into 1-inch-thick half moon rings.
Roast until caramelized. Season your squash and roast at 400°F for about 30 minutes or until nicely caramelized.
Meanwhile, Make the Kale Pesto
Make the kale pesto while the squash roasts. Like any pesto, this one is versatile. You could omit the sage if you like, or you experiment with toasted almonds or even pepitas instead of walnuts.
Toast your nuts. Toasting gives the nuts more flavor by coaxing out their oils. You can do this on the stovetop or in the oven.
I make keep things simple and make this pesto recipe in the food processor. Add the toasted walnuts, Parmesan cheese, and garlic to the bowl of the food processor and process until finely minced. Add the kale and sage and process. Slowly stream in the olive oil through the chute.
Season with fresh lemon juice, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Taste and adjust if necessary.
Boil the Pasta and Make the Breadcrumbs
Cook your pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then salt it well (like the sea). Add your pasta and cook until al denté and still a bit firm.
Toast the breadcrumbs. Bring a medium-sized skillet to heat over medium and add your olive oil. Once oil is hot, add the breadcrumbs, grated garlic clove and salt. Stir everything to coat and toast for about 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently and watching so the crumbs don’t burn.
Do You Eat the Skin of Acorn Squash
It depends on the recipe, but roasting acorn squash makes its skin tender and edible. Plus, in this dish, the squash slices are on the thinner side, so you won’t get a huge chunk of skin. I prefer leaving the skin on because I like the color and texture it adds, but you can easily remove it (I find it’s easier to do this after roasting rather than peeling the whole squash beforehand).
How do You Cut an Acorn Squash for Roasting
- Sharpen that knife, chef. First things first, make sure you’ve got a good, sharp knife. Stand the squash up and slice it in half down the middle, from stem to stem.
- Scoop out the seeds and innards. Use a sturdy spoon for this (a grapefruit spoon works great if you have one).
- Slice into half-moon rings. Lay each squash halve on the cutting board and cut crosswise, into 1-inch-thick slices.
What to Serve With This Pesto Pasta
- Arugula Salad with Shaved Parmesan
- THE BEST Garlic Bread
- The Best Baked Chicken Breast
- Garlic and Herb Rub Pork Tenderloin
- THE BEST Kale Salad with Parmesan and Pine Nuts
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Pasta With Kale Pesto and Roasted Acorn Squash
For the Kale Pesto:
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 garlic cloves , roughly chopped
- 2 cups lacinato (dinosaur) kale leaves , washed, stemmed, and slivered
- 10 sage leaves
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Pasta:
- 1 2-pound acorn squash , halved lengthwise stem to stem, insides scooped out and discarded
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil , divided
- 1/2 + 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt , divided
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound long strand pasta , such as linguine, fettuccine, bucatini, spaghetti
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 garlic clove , grated or pressed
- Parmesan , freshly grated, for serving
For the Kale Pesto:
- Add roughly chopped garlic, toasted pine nuts and finely grated Parmesan cheese to the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.
- Add the kale and sage, and pulse until chopped.
- While the processor is running, drizzle the olive oil through the shoot until the mixture is emulsified and smooth. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper, and whiz again. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your liking.
For the Pasta:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a large sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise, stem to stem. Use a sturdy spoon to scrape and scoop out the insides and discard them. Slice each squash halve into 1/2-inch thick half-moon rings.
- Add the squash rings to a large bowl, along with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the pepper. Toss evenly to coat, then turn squash out into an even layer on the sheet pan. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until nice and caramelized.
- Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water, until al denté and still a bit firm.
- While pasta cooks, toast the breadcrumbs. Bring a medium-sized skillet to heat over medium and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once oil is hot, add the breadcrumbs, the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of salt, and the grated garlic clove. Stir everything to coat and toast for about 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring frequently throughout and watching so the crumbs don't burn.
- To assemble, drain the pasta and add to a large serving bowl. Add the pesto and toss well to coat. Add the squash, toss gently, then top with freshly grated Parmesan and toasted breadcrumbs.
More Fall Squash Recipes to Try
- Roasted Acorn Squash with Kale Pesto
- Harvest Squash and Ricotta Stuffed Shells
- Miso Roasted Butternut Squash
- Autumn Cobb Salad
- Beef Stew with Butternut Squash
- Vegetable Lasagna with Butternut Squash and Shiitake Mushrooms
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