Hey Pesto: Kale and walnut pesto with roasted butternut squash

Kale and walnut pesto.jpg

Kale is a menopause green super hero. There’s no end of health benefits that you’ll gain in this perfect pesto. Cheap and cheerful butternut squash adds a pop of colour and beneficial nutrients too.

Lots of antioxidants, calcium and plenty of essential fatty acids with the walnuts. It will keep in the fridge for a few days if stored in a sealed container.


Serves:          4

Prep time:     20 minutes

Cook time:    30 minutes 



  • 1 small butternut squash

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 tsp Italian herbs

  • Sea salt and black pepper

  • 150g kale

  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

  • 150g walnut halves, lightly toasted and roughly chopped

  • 30g bunch of basil leaves

  • 50g Parmesan, finely grated, plus extra to serve

  • 100ml extra-virgin olive oil

  • 100g smoked pancetta, diced

  • 300g Wholemeal pasta


  1. Preheat the oven to 190C fan oven. Halve the butternut squash, deseed and dice into bitesize chunks (skin on). Place in a roasting tin, pour over 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with Italian herbs, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, mix well and roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Place the pancetta in a small separate roasting tin and roast until the fat begins to run, then turn in the tin and cook until golden and crisp.

  2. Meanwhile toast the walnuts. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and blanch the kale for around 45 seconds. Drain and refresh under cold water. Squeeze any excess moisture from the kale and roughly chop.

  3. Put the garlic cloves in a food processor with 90g walnuts (the rest are for serving), basil leaves, Parmesan and the chopped kale. Pulse to chop finely, then gradually add the oil whilst it’s still running. Finish with 3 tbsp water, the season to taste (remembering that the pancetta will be salty). The pesto should still retain the same texture.

  4. When the butternut squash is half cooked (15 minutes) remove and stir well. And return to the oven for a further 15 minutes. The pancetta should be almost ready at this point, drain the fat and place on a piece of kitchen towel.

  5. Cook pasta according to instructions, reserve a mugful of water before draining. Return to the pan with the pesto and a few tablespoons of cooking water to loosen.

  6. Once the squash is tender and the pancetta is crispy add (retain a little pancetta for serving) to the pasta and turn well to mix

  7. Divide between bowls and finish topped with the remaining walnut halves and pancetta, and more grated parmesan to taste.

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