Easy Summer Dinner: Pasta with Butternut Squash and Pesto

I should’ve been packing for West Texas but there was this small matter of dinner. So I whipped up another batch of the absolute best pasta dish ever, with the idea that I was saving time by also making lunch for the long drive to Davis Mountain Fitness and Training Camp. I’d break up the day in the car with a nice outdoor lunch at the iconic Wagon Wheel rest area in Sonora, TX.

Roasted Butternut=Veggie Candy

The original recipe comes from one of my go-to cookbooks, The Clean-Eating Kitchen: Clean, Simple, and Organic Recipes by Parragon Books.

The Clean-Eating Kitchen and The Vegetable Butcher cookbooks.

 

Tagliatelle with Roasted Squash and Walnut Pesto (pg. 64) quickly became a family favorite. What I particularly love is the sweet roasted butternut squash, which is so simple to prepare.

  • Peel the squash and remove the seeds.
  • Chop into small, uniform cubes.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Spread the cubes in a single layer.
  • Toss with olive oil.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Bake at 400 degrees F for about 25 minutes.

Sheer heaven. The danger lies in whether I eat too much while waiting for it to cool.

Good Gluten Free Pasta

Gluten free pasta, roasted butternut squash, and walnut-basil pesto.

I’ve substituted Ancient Harvest’s organic corn and quinoa blend linguine for the whole-wheat tagliatelle to make the recipe gluten free. I have no idea how the original tastes, but the substituted 8-ounce box of linguine is quite good. This brand has a nice texture—not mushy at all. It cooks up quickly, in about 9 minutes.

Fabulous Summer Pesto

The tagliatelle instructions include a pesto, but I changed that, too. The original recipe calls for a delicious walnut pesto (walnuts, olive oil, fresh basil, Parmesan cheese). But I’d recently made Eggplant, Tomato, and Mozzarella Stacks from my new cookbook love, The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini by Cara Mangini. The stacks have a dollop of Basil-Walnut Pesto (pg.180) between the eggplant and mozzarella slices. There’s little variation—I suspect all basil-walnut pestos are quite similar—just the addition of garlic and an option to include mint.

Eggplant stacks with tomato, mozzarella and pesto from The Vegetable Butcher.
These eggplant stacks with tomato, mozzarella and pesto are so good that even my family that hates eggplant liked them. Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler

I’d wanted to double the recipe but was short on basil, so that suggested mint filled out the 3 cups of herbs needed. Mmmmm. With my pesto ready and waiting in the refrigerator, tonight’s pasta preparation was a breeze.

Getting a Few Greens, Too

Gluten free pasta with roasted butternut squash and pesto with arugula.
The arugula really adds to the flavor of this pasta dish. Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler

All I had to do was mix the roasted squash, pesto, and linguine together (I added a bit more olive oil so the pesto would relax and bind better with the other ingredients). Salt and pepper to taste. The final touch: a sprinkling of fresh arugula on top for some crispy greens, a complimentary bitter bite to the candy-sweet squash.

A nice glass of white wine completed this easy, flavorful, and lovely summer meal.

Aaah.

Plate of gluten free pasta with arugula and glass of wine.

I’m looking forward to that lunch of leftovers.

Picnic lunch at Wagon Wheel rest area in Sonora, TX.
I love a good picnic lunch. This was last year’s stop on my way to Davis Mountain Fitness and Training Camp. Note the wagon wheels. Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler

Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at www.leahruns100.com, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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