Fall is here, and the Pesto’s yet to come! Forgive the lame pun, my friend, and focus instead on this super nutritious and delicious dish. Gnocchi with Butternut Squash Pesto, or as we call it in Italy, Pesto di Zucca.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH PESTO… A DIFFERENT KIND OF PESTO
Of course, everybody by now is familiar with the classic Pesto Genovese made with basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and cheese. However, since Pesto is a word that refers to the traditional process of smashing ingredients together in a mortar with a pestle, one could make all kinds of Pesto using alternative ingredients. Like this rich roasted butternut squash Pesto, for instance.
It’s so creamy and nutty with just a hint of sweetness and a whole lot of flavor. Yum! And you won’t believe how quickly you can put this together with very little effort and prep time.
For the Pesto I’m using:
- Butternut Squash (previously roasted)
- Raw Walnuts
- Fresh Rosemary
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Each one of these ingredients will be used as is, no prepping of any kind. The only step you have is halving and roasting the butternut squash. I leave the peel on and seeds in, preferring to peel and seed the squash after it’s roasted and cooled off. The task seems to be quicker and easier that way.
Just blend them all together in a food processor or blender until you have a smooth, creamy, dreamy Pesto. Voilà!
HOW TO USE THIS “PESTO DI ZUCCA” IN A RECIPE
So, how do you use this Pesto in a recipe? The short answer is however you see fit. Another answer is by pairing it with a pasta and flavors that will enhance every single note and ingredient in this nutritious powerhouse. For instance:
- for the pasta, I used my homemade Paleo Sweet Potato Gnocchi (get my easy recipe right here!)
- I made a soffritto with Smoked Pancetta, fresh Sage and Shallots
- I sauteed the gnocchi in the pan with the soffritto
- then I spread a generous amount of Pesto on a serving dish
- I placed the sauteed gnocchi on top of the Pesto
- finally, I finished the dish with freshly grated Lemon Zest and toasted Pine Nuts
- I added some fresh Basil as garnish
- and OMG… *drool*
As I love to say, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a thousand pictures. Watch how I put together this amazing, delicious recipe with very little effort.
And that is it! So doable, right? Don’t let the fancy Italian names intimidate you. It’s a simple dish; not much experience needed. I promise!
And now, before I leave you with the full recipe, I want to show you a close-up of this mouth-watering and nutrient-dense marvel because… #foodporn
GNOCCHI WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH PESTO (PESTO DI ZUCCA)
- 12 ounces gnocchi see my recipe for "Paleo Sweet Potato Gnocchi"
- 24 ounces butternut squash roasted, cooled off, peeled and seeded
- 4 tbsp ricotta
- 3 tbsp walnuts
- 2 tbsp rosemary fresh
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp Himalayan salt adjust to taste
- 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 3 ounces smoked pancetta substitute bacon, if you don't find pancetta
- 2 shallots minced
- 1 sprig sage
- black pepper to taste
- 1 lemon only the zest
- 1 sprig basil fresh, for garnish
BUTTERNUT SQUASH PESTO (Pesto di Zucca)
- Preheat oven to 375 F
- Cut the butternut squash in half, sprinkle halves with salt and place them face up in the oven to roast for 50 minutes to 1 hour
- Let the butternut squash cool off before peeling and seeding it (you could peel and seed it before roasting it, but I find it much easier to do it once it's roasted)
- Place the butternut squash, ricotta, walnuts, nutmeg, salt, pepper, rosemary leaves, and olive oil in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside
- Chop the pancetta in small pieces and let it saute/sweat in a heated saute pan until golden
- Mince the shallots and add them to the pan
- Tear a few leaves off the sage sprig and coarsely run a knife through them. Add them to the pan along with the sprig
- After a few minutes, when the soffritto is almost brown and the pancetta has released its fat, remove from the stove and set aside
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil
- Add the gnocchi to the pot and stir (it's better to add the gnocchi a few at a time, so they don't stick together)
- When the gnocchi rise to the surface they are ready to be removed from the water and drained
GNOCCHI WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH PESTO
- Add the drained gnocchi to the pan with the soffritto and mix well until the gnocchi are completely coated
- Spread a generous amount of the pesto onto a serving dish. Place the gnocchi on top
- Finish with freshly grated lemon zest and garnish with basil leaves
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