Whole Grain Spaghetti with Winter Herb Pesto and Roasted Delicata Squash

IngredientsPasta, Squash
Menu PartEntree
Cuisine TypeVegetarian

Chef Bob Bankert

University of Massachusetts

Amherst, Mass.

Two types of squash—delicata and butternut—along with cashews and pumpkin seeds play starring roles in this pasta dish. It’s completely plant-based, down to the cashew ricotta. Chef Bankert created it to be a winter version of a classic summer pasta dish with the added benefits of ingredients rich in protein, fiber and healthy fats.



3 lb. whole grain spaghetti

2 cups reserved pasta water

18 oz. winter herb pesto (recipe follows)

24 oz. delicata squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeded and sliced ¼-in. thick

1 tbsp. olive oil

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground pepper

18 oz. cashew ricotta (recipe follows)

24 oz. butternut squash-olive oil emulsion

Winter Herb Pesto

2 oz. fresh thyme, roughly chopped

2 oz. Italian parlsey, roughly chopped

½ oz. fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped

10 oz. pumpkin seeds, roasted

4 oz. cashews, roasted

1 oz. fresh, peeled garlic

4 oz. canola oil

2 oz. water

1 tsp. salt

Cashew Ricotta

12 oz. cashews, soaked in hot water for 1 hour

1 tbsp. cider vinegar

2-3 oz. water (reserved from soaking cashews)

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. granulated garlic

Butternut Squash-Olive Oil Emulsion

1½ lb. butternut squash, peeled and diced in 1-in. pieces

3 oz. onions, julienned

1 tbsp. olive oil

3 cups vegetable stock

1 tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

4 oz. olive oil


  1. For winter herb pesto, place pumpkin seeds, garlic, salt and cashews in food processer along with half the oil and water; process until coarsely ground. Add the herbs and process again, adding enough oil and water to emulsify and make a pesto; set aside.   
  2. For cashew ricotta, drain soaked cashews, reserving some of the soaking liquid. Place cashews in food processor with cider vinegar, salt and granulated garlic; process until finely ground. Slowly drizzle in reserved water to create the consistency of ricotta cheese.
  3. For butternut squash emulsion, in large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onions, sugar and salt; sweat until onions are tender. Add the butternut squash and vegetable stock; bring to a simmer. Cook until squash is very tender.
  4. Place the squash with a little bit of cooking liquid in blender; blend on high until pureed. Slowly drizzle in olive oil to emulsify; reserve warm.
  5. For pasta, toss the delicata squash with olive oil, salt and pepper and spread out on sheet pan. Roast in 425 F oven for 6 to 8 minutes or until caramelized and tender.
  6. Cook the spaghetti in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving some cooking water.
  7. For service, place cooked spaghetti in mixing bowl; toss with winter herb pesto and some of the reserved cooking water to create a sauce. Spoon butternut squash emulsion on bottom of each plate; top with the whole grain spaghetti and delicate squash. Spoon a little bit of ricotta on top and serve. 

Photo courtesy of Barilla

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