Lately (meaning this past week), I’ve been trying to make dinners at our place a little healthier. I am, usually, pretty awful at this. I’m better when my boyfriend is out traveling and it’s just me at home, only because I am too lazy to cook a full on dinner for one. I’ll make kale chips or some sliced tomato and avocado and qualify it as dinner. But it seems like when he’s home and I’m actually cooking dinner, it’s oozing with cheese and covered with sauce.
I do this because I think it’s easier (which it’s not) and I try to make anything my boyfriend requests (he does travel a lot), which usually isn’t on the healthy side (anything I’ve ever made with bacon on this blog is probably because he’s requested it). I know he would eat anything that I would make, so I really just need to make healthier options, like this pesto spaghetti squash with roasted tomatoes.
Now I’m not going to lie to you, spaghetti squash does not taste like spaghetti. It’s not some miracle vegetable that will make you never crave those carb filled noodles again. It will, though, provide you a healthier alternative for smothering sauce without all the guilt of a big plate of spaghetti noodles. What it does have going for itself is that it’s pretty simple to prepare. Just half it, rub it with some olive oil and roast in the oven for about forty minutes.
I decided to top it with pesto, freshly made and chopped by hand pesto. It made my whole kitchen smell like an Italian grandmother’s kitchen. It was a little time consuming- the chopping of the garlic and then slowly adding in basil leaves and chopping some more, then the addition of the nuts and chopping again, and finally grating cheese over this vibrantly green paste and giving everything one final chop. You then transfer this mixture to a small bowl, not much larger than your garlicky basil mixture, and drizzle a bit of olive oil over top.
Before all this chopping happened, I had halved some small yellow and red cherry tomatoes, that had been tossed with some olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, and put them in the oven until they got all soft and juicy.
Once all the prep has been done and your spaghetti squash has been forked out into a large bowl, you simply toss with the pesto sauce and top it with the roasted tomatoes. You could add a little more cheese, but let’s not get carried away; this is supposed to be a healthy dinner… remember.
It’s fragrant and fresh and full of bright colors and flavors. Your mouth will definitely be happy!
- 1 large spaghetti squash, seeded and halved (about 4-5 lbs)
- 1 pound grape tomatoes
- 3 medium cloves of garlic
- ⅓ cup raw nuts (I used walnuts, but you could use pine nuts, almonds, pecans, etc...)
- ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large bunch of basil, leaves only, washed and dried
- 2-4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for roasting vegetables
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place the spaghetti squash, halves cut side up, on a baking sheet and rub with olive oil.
- Bake until tender and just beginning to brown on the edges, about 40 minutes.
- Reduce the oven to 350 degrees.
- Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Bake until tomatoes begin to shrivel and become juicy.
- While spaghetti squash and tomatoes, in a food processor combine garlic, nuts and Parmesan cheese. Pulse 5-6 times until mixture is coarse.
- Add basil leaves, and pulse a few more times.
- Slowly drizzle olive oil into the mixture with food processor running until pesto starts to come together. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Once the spaghetti squash has baked, allow the squash to cool slightly. If liquid has collected in the center, drain it off, then scrape out the insides with a fork and separate into spaghetti strands and place in a large bowl. In the bowl with the spaghetti squash, add the pesto and toss until combined.
- Top with the roasted tomatoes and more Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper if desired.