While I planted basil this summer, I didn’t use very much of it. It bolted before I knew what I wanted to do with it. My Pesto Perpetuo basil, a non-bolting basil, from two years ago was a basil warehouse. I had access to basil year-round as it survived the trip back into the house during winter. However, it died when I put it back outside this year. I suppose annuals have to die at some point. Given my lack of basil this summer, I feel that it is worth scoping it out next year.
Of course, it makes sense that once the summer is mere a distant memory, the days are cold and the rides back home in the night even colder, all I want is pesto. One of my proliferative herbs this summer was sage (if only the thyme and rosemary could have taken some advice). It may be synonymous with Thanksgiving stuffing, but one can definitely look beyond that.
You actually don’t need cups of sage to make this pesto. Instead sage is buffered with mild baby spinach to create a garlicky spread. Instead of pine nuts, I used toasted hazelnuts and hazelnut oil to flavour this winter pesto. The nutritional yeast adds the traditional cheesy taste but feel free to omit it. I chose to serve it with hazelnut-roasted delicata squash rings. Served on more greens, you have a very flavourful salad. Add white beans to make this a main meal. I didn’t use too much oil so my pesto was more thick than oily. Loaded with flavour. Later in the week, I liked it smeared inside a green wrap (with a nod to my simple hazelnut-roasted squash, avocado and cucumber wrap).
Do you like pesto in the winter?
Hazelnut-Roasted Delicata Squash with Winter Hazelnut-Sage Pesto
Adapted from Big Vegan
1 large delicata squash (aka sweet potato squash) (600g) (or your favourite winter squash)
1-2 tbsp hazelnut oil (or your oil of choice)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
1 clove garlic
2 cups baby spinach
4 tbsp sage (increase if you want a more pronounced sage flavour, this was mild)
2 tsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp hazelnut oil (or oil of choice)
4-6 cups baby spinach
2 cups cooked white beans (optional)
1. To roast the squash, preheat oven to 425F. Slice squash into 1–2 cm thick rings and scoop out the seeds and pulp (no need to peel!). Toss with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Evenly place on a silpat-lined baking tray (it just helps with the clean-up). Bake at 425F for 15 minutes. Flip squash over and cook an additional 15 minutes, until it can be easily pierced with a fork. Set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, prepare your pesto. In a food processor fitted with its S-blade, chop hazelnuts and garlic until finely ground. Add spinach, sage, nutritional yeast and salt and blend until smooth. Drizzle in oil until you reach your desired consistency. Season with additional salt and pepper.
3. Serve roasted squash overtop spinach and top with pesto. Add white beans for a complete meal.
Serves 4 as a starter salad.