I can sum up my love for delicata squash in two words: no peeling. That’s right – its skin is tender and edible. You get all of the autumnal, squashy goodness without the trouble of peeling it. And without the risk of chopping your hand off. Does any one else get slightly terrified every time you have to cut and peel a butternut or kabocha? Fall can be a dangerous time in the kitchen.
Without the necessity of peeling, delicata is the perfect weeknight squash. On busy weeknights, prep time is my main deterrent from cooking anything more involved than eggs and greens on toast (our weeknight go-to). With a demanding (albeit very cute) toddler in the picture now, I have to rely on easily-prepped or pre-prepped ingredients that I can throw together in little time. This pasta is a perfect fall weeknight meal, because it comes together quickly or you can prep its components ahead of time. Make the pesto up to a week before, and while you’re at it, double the recipe and use it throughout the week. Spread it onto toast, stir into soups or scramble into eggs. The same goes for the squash – prep it in advance, on the slightly underdone side, and pop it back into the oven when you’re ready to cook the pasta.
I love the combination of flavors in this pasta. Earthy, sweet squash provides the perfect foil for the herby, creamy pesto, with a slight tang from the lemon to balance the flavors. Come fall, I’m a fan of using heartier herbs in my pesto, such as rosemary, thyme and, as I did here, sage. Such herbs lend grounding pine notes that transition pesto to complement autumnal flavors. I love pesto for this very reason – it is always evolving and ever-adaptable to what you have on hand. For this pesto, in addition to pumpkin seeds, I used cashews that I soaked in hot water for an hour or two. Doing so makes this pesto very creamy without adding any dairy. When combined with a bit of cooking water from the pasta, the pesto virtually melts into a dreamy sauce.
I used chickpea pasta here, but any pasta will do. I like using chickpea pasta for Rose for its extra protein and the fact that it has no refined grains, which I try to avoid giving Rose as they are tough on her young digestive system. THIS chickpea pasta is delicious and virtually indistinguishable from the regular variety. I topped our bowls with toasted pumpkin seeds and sage for a little crunch, pomegranate seeds of for a burst of tart flavor and arugula micro-greens for fresh color. The toppings are totally optional.
Have a great day! xx Maggie