As the weather changes, things in the garden start needing immediate attention, such as all the basil that needs to be picked and used before it dies. What to do with too much basil? Make pesto! Fresh pesto is, of course, amazing on pasta, but for a healthier seasonal twist, we paired it with winter squash and Brussels sprouts to create a lovely side dish that goes well with any meat, such as a simple roasted chicken.
Winter Squash with Brussels Sprouts and Pesto
Serves 4 as a side
1 small Blue Hubbard or similar winter squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
½ cup pesto
In a saucepan, bring lightly salted water to a boil. Add the squash, cover with a lid, and steam for about 7 minutes until just tender when pierced with a fork. After the first two minutes, add the Brussels sprouts and let them steam together for the final 5 minutes. Drain well.
Return the vegetables to the skillet over medium heat and toss with ½ cup of pesto. Sauté for a couple of minutes to allow for the pesto to coat everything and for the flavors to be incorporated.
To make the Pesto
Makes about 2 ½ cups
3 big bunches of basil leaves, about 4 cups, stems removed
½ cup pine nuts (since pine nuts tend to be pricey, they can be omitted and the recipe will still be delicious. Shelled roasted sunflower seeds would work as well)
½ cup olive oil
3 cloves (or to taste) peeled garlic
1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
½ tsp salt
In a dry food processor bowl fitted with the cutting blade, mince the garlic. Add the olive oil and process briefly to blend the garlic in well. Add the pine nuts and process briefly. Add the basil and pulse off and on to chop it finely, scraping the bowl down as you go. Add the cheese and the salt and process just long enough to mix well.
Pesto keeps nicely in the fridge for a few days if it’s tightly covered, but it likes to turn dark when exposed to the air. When making a large batch of pesto at the end of the season each year, I take the extra pesto, fill ice cube trays with it, freeze it and then later pop the pesto cubes out and store them in plastic bags in the freezer. It’s the perfect way to add a little pesto to a sauce or a stew all winter long.