It’s been cool enough in New York this week that I can begin to indulge my love of fall produce and cooking. It’s a piecemeal process, something that happens one ingredient at a time. I’m not quite ready for pumpkin soup or a parade of cinnamon-scented baking projects—though neither is far off—but I am ready to embrace golden-hued winter squash, crispy apples, and a few other harbingers of September. This roasted butternut squash, zucchini & arugula pesto pasta salad is a perfect celebration of early fall: sweet and hearty thanks to the squash, but brightened up with the summery flavor of fresh pesto and the crisp bite of raw arugula.
One of my favorite things about making pesto is the ease and adaptability. I do love the flavor of basil in pesto, but other herbs and greens can work in its place, or along with it. I happen to have a lot of arugula right now, some of which went into the pasta salad itself, and some of which was thrown into my food processor along with a fistful of basil leaves. Ditto for the nuts: I’ve used walnuts, pine nuts, and pepitas to make pesto, but for this batch, I used what I had, which was raw sunflower seeds.
The pasta salad features one of my favorite new product finds, which is Chickapea pasta—a tender, versatile pasta that’s made with only two ingredients, chickpeas and lentils. It’s got no artificial additives or sugar, it’s 100% vegan, and it also happens to be organic, non-GMO, and kosher, which means that it’s perfect for many types of eating styles.
Chickapea cooks up just like conventional pasta and in the same amount of time, but with 27 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber in a 3.5 ounce serving. I love pastas of all kinds, but I think it’s fantastic that this option, which harnesses the superfood power of legumes, is available now. It means that pasta suppers can be just a little more nutrient dense without sacrifices in flavor or texture, and it’s such an easy option for those who are trying to work more protein into plant-based meals.
The Chickapea shells, spirals, and penne could be used in any type of pasta dish, but the shells are especially good for this pasta salad: their sturdiness allows them to hold their own alongside the tender roasted veggies and crispy arugula, and their crevices conveniently collect extra bits of the pesto sauce.
The pesto recipe here is based on my standard version, but with tweaked proportions and sunflower seeds. Feel free to use a mixture of all basil if you’re lucky enough to have a garden that’s teeming with fresh herbs right now, or to try cilantro or parsley in its place. If you’ve got lots of arugula but no basil at the ready, an all-arugula blend is lovely—and spicy!—too.
The pasta salad is perfect for easy lunch gatherings, picnics, or potlucks, and the ingredients will be seasonal well through early fall. But quite possibly my favorite thing about this recipe is that the leftovers taste fantastic and keep well for at least a couple of days, which means that it’s perfect for packed lunches—whether you’re headed back to school this fall, or simply committing to bringing your lunch to work more often.
The fact that Chickapea pasta is so nutrient dense means that you can feel great serving it to little eaters, too—it’s a great vehicle for sneaking more legumes into kids’ diets!
If you’re keen to try Chickapea for yourself, you can purchase it online or through Amazon. You can also find a store or supplier near you through the Chickapea website. I hope you enjoy this flavorful, fresh pasta salad while the early fall bounty is still rich and colorful 🙂
I’ve got a busy week of back to school and work catch up ahead of me, but with any luck it’ll be offset with plenty of therapeutic home cooking. See you for the usual roundup this weekend!
This post is sponsored by Chickapea pasta. All opinions are my own, and I’m loving these nutrient-dense, legume-based vegan pastas! Thanks for your support.