Roasted Acorn Squash with Kale Pesto is a complex yet super simple side dish that can be enjoyed whenever acorn squash is in season-typically during the cold months. It's one of those winter squashes that is super versatile and can be enjoyed in so many ways. Easy roasted acorn squash has so much flavor mainly because of the pesto.
Its got tons of garlicy, cheesy flavor with a little bit of crunch from the pistachios. This is one of my favorite fall recipes. I love to enjoy it, particularly during the holidays because it pairs so well alongside Thanksgiving and Christmas side dishes like green bean casserole. This could also be a main dish when accompanied by other vegetable dishes.
- Acorn Squash- is the main ingredient of this dish but what makes it a show-stopper is the kale pesto. Kale acts as the base while other traditional pesto ingredients such as parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic bind all of the ingredients together. Pistachio nuts are the non-traditional element here while salt and pepper bring all of the flavors together.
What is acorn squash?
Acorn squash is a slightly sweet squash with a nutty flavor, and orange flesh. The sweet flavor is closely matched to that of butternut squash, and spaghetti squash. The outside of the squash is a deep forest green color and you may see large round yellow/orange spots. Acorn squash has easily recognizable ridges that make a pattern on the acorn squash skin. Additionally, it is a great source of iron.
You will need a variety of tools to create this dish. To start, you will need a cutting board a large sharp knife, and a small knife to cut the squash and the other ingredients. A large spoon is needed to scoop out the flesh of the squash. To make the pesto you will need a food processor, and to bake the squash, a baking sheet pan will be needed.
A great way to cut down on any extra time in the kitchen is to prepare everything in an efficient way. First, slice the squash in half following the direction of the lines-this is a key step to making sure the squash is sliced properly to a specific look. Next, scoop out the stringy bits in the cavity of each squash to make a hollow center. Place the individual halves flesh side down on a cutting board. Starting at the stem end, create thick slices that are about ½ inch thick, cutting in the opposite way the lines are seen.
Grate the Parmigiano Reggiano and set it aside.
How to make Kale Pesto
The easiest way to make kale pesto is by using a food processor or some type of blender. ( A smoothie blender works really well, just make sure to put it in the dishwasher or give it a very thorough cleaning afterward; otherwise, it will smell like garlic.) Simply add the kale, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, pistachios, parmesan, salt, and pepper to a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Make the kale pesto
- Prepare and slice acorn squash. Coat the squash evenly with olive oil and space the cut halves away from each other on the baking sheet- giving them some room for the hot air to flow freely. They shouldn't be right next to each other; sprinkle them with a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for the specified time listed on the recipe card. Flip the squash slices halfway through so they cook evenly. You should see a bit of caramelization on the side that was facing the baking sheet.
- There are two options next: If you did not massage the kale, you can remove the pan from the oven, and arrange the slices as seen below after they've cooked for a bit-be sure to use an oven glove and high heat-resistant spatula for this part. Then spoon the mixture over the top before returning the squash to the oven.
- Alternatively, remove the slices from the oven before transferring them to your serving platter. Spoon the kale pesto over the top and enjoy!
How to store acorn squash with kale pesto
This dish can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
You can use store-bought grated parmesan for this recipe
You can use store-bought lemon juice concentrate in place of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Fresh spinach can be used in place of kale.
The use of pine nuts in place of pistachios would make for a more traditionally-flavored pesto.
Massaging your kale turns the greens into a tender and enjoyable leafy vegetable. If you don't massage your kale there's no need to worry, it's just as enjoyable...your pesto will just be a bit more course. I personally enjoy both ways but if you're not sure what to do in this situation, go for the massaged kale.
To massage kale, make sure it is thoroughly rinsed and dried. Pour about a teaspoon over the top and use your fingers to rub the leaves until the color has darkened and the leaves are softer than they were previously- takes about 30 seconds.
An easy side dish that can be enjoyed all year round, especially during the fall. Massaged kale, garlic, and pistachios make this scrumptious.
2 Acorn Squash
For the pesto-
2 cups kale
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup pistachio nuts
3 cloves garlic
½ cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¾ teaspoon salt (plus a pinch more for sprinkling the squash)
¾ teaspoon pepper (plus a pinch more for sprinkling the squash)
- Halve the squash, scoop out the seeds with a spoon, then slice in the same direction as the ridges. Season with salt and pepper, toss in olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
- Prepare the pesto by combining kale, pistachio nuts, garlic, olive oil and parmesan in a food processor; pulse to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove squash from oven, spoon pesto on top, return to oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Roasted
- Cuisine: American, Italian
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 287
- Sugar: 0.8 g
- Sodium: 515.6 mg
- Fat: 29.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 5.8 g
- Protein: 3 g
- Cholesterol: 1.4 mg
Keywords: kale pesto, acorn squash, roasted acorn squash with kale pesto