Amazing Pesto Butternut Squash – Thanksgiving Side Dish

by NaturalDeets
butternut squash

Tell me if this sounds like you…This year I am going to find a new, delicious recipe to bring to Thanksgiving that we haven’t tried before. I want it to be impressive, but I really don’t want to spend a lot of time making it. Sound familiar? If so, this Roasted Butternut Squash recipe is for you!

Pinterest pin for with round butternut quash circles on a brown cutting board topped with pesto, parmesan and pine nuts

Healthy Thanksgiving Sides

I moved to Washington when I was in college, *cough* a while ago. Since my family was in Hawaii, I wasn’t able to swing the $700 plane ticket just to go back for 1 week over Thanksgiving break. 

Fortunately for me, most of the friends I made in college had the same dilemma. So we started celebrating Thanksgiving on our own…waaay before Friendsgiving was even a thing. We were all young and didn’t really know how to cook, but we sure had a lot of heart! 

We would each pick a few dishes and would meet up at night for a potluck style dinner, complete with everything from turkey and mashed potatoes to pancit and lumpia. It was amazing! 

a picture of a cutting board placed on teh diagonal with bitternut squash rounds topped with pesto, parmesan and pine nuts

When it comes to Thanksgiving, if you aren’t making the turkey, you are brining a side dish! Give me a chance to convince you to try this pesto butternut squash appetizer at your next Thanksgiving. 

Healthy Thanksgiving Sides

About 2 years ago, my friends and I were standing around a few bottles of wine talking about health issues. Fortunately none of us had anything serious, but it turned out that we were all trying to eat healthier. So, then why was it that when we all got together, we would bring the most unhealthy dishes we could dream up? 

It was time we started bringing healthy-er dishes to our gatherings. And Thanksgiving is no exception. In fact, Thanksgiving is the perfect time for healthy dishes becuase we are about to dive in and eat an excessive amount of food! 

These pesto butternut squash rounds are packed with nutrition: 

Butternut Squash Nutrition Information

Butternut squash is packed with Vitamin A, potassium and fiber. Let’s face it…fiber is our friend at Thanksgiving! Potassium is technically an electrolyte that helps keep your blood flowing and helps your muscles work. It is said to decrease the risk of stroke and to lower blood pressure. Vitamin A is beneficial for healthy vision and boosting your immune system. 

Pesto:

Pesto is made of Olive oil, Basil, Parmesan Cheese and Garlic. Parmesan cheese doesn’t have much benefit, but a little bit goes a long way. However, basil is great for digestion, the skin, improving depression and promoting a healthy gut!

How To Make Pesto

One day I will write a post on how to make pesto! It is so easy but now that we don’t eat dairy, I don’t make it nearly as often! Pesto can be used on anything so make a big batch and try it on chicken, pork, pizza or even pasta! 

Pesto is so forgiving, that I am going to give you the easiest recipe ever! In a high powered blender, add a 1 inch piece of hard parmesan (not preshredded), 1 very large batch of pesto, 1 garlic clove and 1/4 cup of pine nuts. Blend well and adjust the seasoning as needed! 

That is a very basic recipe, but trust me, it will get you where you need to be. 

If you are in a time crunch, I have tried some very delicious premade pesto from the grocery stores. Just read the ingredients and make sure it is free of anything other than the ingredients above. 

The Original Thanksgiving Recipe

A few years ago we did a Holiday Clean Eating challenge where readers could submit their favorite holiday recipe and we would clean it up and make a healthier version.

a picture of a cutting board placed on teh diagonal with bitternut squash rounds topped with pesto, parmesan and pine nuts

That year, a reader submitted a recipe for Sweet Potato rounds, I was very excited! They sounded delicious and they were relatively simple to make. The reader described these as an alternative to sweet potato casserole. 

The original recipe consisted of a slice of sweet potato baked with a melted marshmallow and brown sugar and pecan on top. I love that this would be easy to eat at a party. But with the marshmallow and sugar, this dish was in need of a makeover.

How To Peel Butternut Squash

All right, I’m gong to get honest with you. It can be very difficult to peel a butternut squash. Depending on the time of year, the skin can be especially tough. 

If you try peeling it with a vegetable peeler (which is possible with lots of patience) you will go crazy! You have to work at a really slow pace and sometimes the peeler slips on the skin. 

The best way to peel it is with a knife. Cut off the top and bottom of the squash to give it some stability, and just start cutting off the skin. This is also the safer way of peeling the squash becuase your knife is less likely to slip. Be sure to use a sharp knife and go slowly. Protect your fingers! 

Make Ahead Appetizers

In addition to being delicious and super impressive, these can also be prepped the day before and quickly assembled and baked the next day. 

Step 1: Carefully peel and slice the butternut squash into slices that are about 1/8 inches thick. Store in the fridge in an airtight container

Step 2: Prepare your  pesto and store, covered, in the fridge

Step 3: Toast your pine nuts. Let them cool completely, then store them in a container. These do not need to be refrigerated

Step 4: shred your parmesan, if not already shredded

Day of: Remove the squash slices, pesto and parmesan from the fridge. Grab your pine nuts. Assemble the squash per the instructions below and place in the oven! 

Roasted Butternut Squash Rounds

Are you ready to be surprised at just how easy this is to assemble? Let me show you! 

The very first step is to toast 1/2 cup of pine nuts in a pan over medium-low heat. Toast for about 5 minutes or until browned. Be very careful not to burn the nuts. Place on a plate and cool.

Using a vegetable peeler or knife, peel the butternut squash. Slice the neck of a butternut squash into rounds. Save the bottom of the butternut squash for a different recipe.

butternut squash sliced into thin circles and roasted on a pan

Next, add a spoonful of pesto on top of each round. I used a little less than a tablespoon per round, but depending on the size of your squash, you may need to adjust the measurement. It should be enough to cover the majority of the squash, but not so much that it leaks off the sides. 

Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts and Parmesan or Romano Cheese over the top of the pesto.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the butternut squash is tender.

a diagonal wood cutting board on a marble countertop with roasted pesto butterbut rounds

Roasted Butternut Squash With Pesto and Pinenuts

Be prepared to be amazed with just how easy this delicious roasted butternut squash appetizer is!

Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword butternut squash, clean eating recipes, make ahead appetizers, make ahead thanksgiving, pesto, roasted butternut squash
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 122 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 1/2 Cup Pesto
  • 1/2 Cup Pine Nuts
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan or Romano Cheese Shredded

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°

  2. Toast 1/2 cup of pine nuts in a pan over medium-low heat. Toast for about 5 minutes or until browned. Be very careful not to burn the nuts. Place on a plate and cool

  3. Carefully peel the butternut squash. Slice the neck of the butternut squash into 1/8 inch rounds. Save the bottom of the butternut squash for a different recipe.

  4. Place the butternut squash rounds on a lined cookie sheet.

  5. Add approximately 1/2 teaspoon of pesto on top of each round. Depending on the size of your squash, you made need to adjust the measurement. It should be enough to cover the majority of the squash, but not so much that it leaks off the sides.

  6. Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts and Parmesan or Romano Cheese over the top of the pesto.

  7. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the butternut squash is tender.

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29 comments

Anonymous November 16, 2017 - 6:52 pm

Wow, what a combination. I would guess the pesto is the dominant flavor. Will have to try it!

Reply
Melina November 16, 2017 - 8:59 pm

I want to try these appetizers!

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Lisa November 16, 2017 - 8:59 pm

Nice to offer healthier options but I’m still about the potatoes and stuffing!

Reply
NaturalDeets November 25, 2017 - 11:39 pm

I know what you mean…the carbs are my fav!!

Reply
Melissa Parcel November 16, 2017 - 9:08 pm

My husband and I would both love these, but I don’t think I could get anyone else to join us. My kids are very adventurous eaters but both hate squash with a passion.

Reply
Melissa November 16, 2017 - 9:18 pm

These look tasty and seem simple enough for me to master! Pinning for later!

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Maggie November 16, 2017 - 10:53 pm

I agree, best to dispense with the overly saccharine Sweet Potato Casserole side dish few folks seem to care for. This looks like a very tasty substitute!

Reply
Kara November 17, 2017 - 12:50 am

Yum! Looks so tasty. I love butternut squash and pesto, but never thought of combining the two.

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Mollie November 17, 2017 - 2:02 am

What a great appetizer and it looks lovely on the serving dish!

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Heidi November 17, 2017 - 2:27 am

mmmm I just love butternut squash. I might have to try this!

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Christy November 17, 2017 - 5:48 am

Yummy! Looks like a good recipe for Thanksgiving!

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Deanna November 17, 2017 - 10:06 am

Those look amazing!! Definitely going on my recipe list.

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Laura Belle November 17, 2017 - 11:58 am

Those look delicious.

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Stacey Billingsley November 17, 2017 - 2:38 pm

I’ve never thought of doing that with squash. They look so good, and they are pretty to serve at a party, too! I will have to try these this holiday season.

Reply
Monica November 17, 2017 - 3:42 pm

I’ve never seen anything like this before. You’re right they would make a great Thanksgiving appetizer. so festive and fancy looking. I love pesto too

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Jessica November 17, 2017 - 4:23 pm

Yum! Looks good and sounds easy to make with only a few ingredients.

Reply
NaturalDeets November 17, 2017 - 8:40 pm

I’m all about simple ingredients! ?

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Kimberli November 17, 2017 - 7:29 pm

Looks delicious ?!

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NaturalDeets November 17, 2017 - 8:39 pm

Thanks!

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Elizabeth Miller Sliwa November 18, 2017 - 1:19 pm

These look amazing! I’m always on the lookout for healthier alternatives to the same old same old carb laden food. I wonder if the kids would eat these…

Reply
NaturalDeets November 25, 2017 - 11:38 pm

The kids probably won’t eat them 🙂 But at least the adults won’t feel as guilty indulging!

Reply
Lisa November 18, 2017 - 5:15 pm

These look delicious! And super easy, which is basically a requirement for anything I make. Lol!

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NaturalDeets November 25, 2017 - 11:38 pm

Lol, same here! It doesn’t need to be complicated!

Reply
Shanna November 21, 2017 - 1:59 am

I’m not a huge fan of butternut squash. I’ll have to give this a try and see if it changes my mind.

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NaturalDeets November 25, 2017 - 11:37 pm

Let me know if you change your mind!

Reply
Melissa November 21, 2017 - 6:42 am

These look so pretty and tasty!

Reply
Jen November 25, 2017 - 8:46 pm

This look so delicious and beautiful! We have a lot of gatherings coming up, I’ll definitely keep these in mind to make!

Reply
Fermin December 2, 2017 - 6:19 pm

very good put up, i certainly love this web site, keep on it

Reply
NaturalDeets December 3, 2017 - 11:48 pm

Thank you! I appreciate your comment! 🙂

Reply

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