butternut squash with hemp pesto

Easy to make, delicious even at room temp, which makes it easy to serve at the holidays. And, yes, you can serve with toothpicks as a colorful, yummy appetizer too.

Hemp pesto is delish, nut-free and dairy-free. Hemp seeds are both a nutritional and an ecological powerhouse.   An acre of hemp produces 4 times more paper per year than an acre of trees (the oldest printed paper in existence is a 100% hemp Chinese text dated 770 AD. Did you know Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence and Constitution on hemp paper?)

 Serves 6-8                                                                                 Roast at 400 degrees

1 butternut squash (2-3 pounds) 8 C mixed herbs and greens (read below)
¼ C Oxygen extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) 1 C more EVOO
2-4 cloves pressed garlic 1 tsp more good salt
1 tsp each good salt and black pepper 2-4 more cloves garlic
1 sprig fresh rosemary, or 1 tsp dry 2 C hemp seeds
  pinch cayenne, optional

Preheat oven to 400 (or so) degrees. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Place each half cut side down and cut into about one-inch slices crosswise. Stand each slice so the peel side is facing out (or vertical) and use a sharp knife to cut off the peel. Cut each slice into one-inch chunks.  In a large bowl, toss peeled squash bites with EVOO, garlic, salt, pepper and rosemary. Spread on baking pan and roast, uncovered, about 25 minutes.   Feel free to flip using a metal spatula half way through the roasting.

If you don’t have a large food processor (mine holds about 2.5 quarts), divide the second column, pesto ingredients into two separate batches. Using the steel blade, load the work bowl starting with greens. Our kitchen loves fresh basil. I lean heavily on parsley (stems and all) with sprigs of cilantro, basil, mint, oregano, thyme – whatever I happen to have. Even a chard or kale leaf, or two. . Add other ingredients in order and then pulse until pesto moves under the blade nicely. You will have to turn off your machine and scrape down the sides a few times.

When the squash is cool, gently toss it with a cup of pesto. Save the rest to dollop on any number of dishes. Or freeze, because pesto does freeze beautifully.

For an elegant variation, roast the squash as slices and then plate with an artistic swipe of the pesto over slices.