Pepita Pesto Pasta with Roasted Squash

I tossed the pesto with a hot pepper penne (I bought it at Buon Italia in Chelsea Market)—the pasta itself is flavored with hot pepper—but any short cut pasta will do. This dish is just a wonderful marriage of Mexican and Italian flavors. It has roast squash mixed in with the pasta and an herby toasted pumpkin seed pesto. It is crazy good.


  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/3 cup EVOO, plus more for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup packed mixed fresh herbs, such as cilantro, basil, and flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • 1/3 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds), toasted
  • 2 jalapeño or serrano chiles, seeded
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or pasted
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 pound penne pasta


Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Place the squash on a baking sheet, drizzle with EVOO, and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Roast until tender and charred at the edges, about 18 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine 1/3 cup EVOO, the herbs, cheese, pepitas, chiles, garlic, and lime juice. Pulse together to the consistency of a pesto. Season with salt and pepper.

Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta al dente. Before draining the pasta, ladle out about a cup of the starchy pasta cooking water.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the pesto and reserved pasta cooking water and toss with tongs 1 or 2 minutes for the flavors to absorb. Add the roasted squash and toss gently.

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