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.
- 1 large spaghetti squash, seeded and halved (about 4-5 lbs)
- ½ cup grape tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for roasting vegetables
- 1 large bunch of basil, leaves only, washed and dried
- 3 medium cloves of garlic
- one small handful of raw nuts (I used almonds, but traditionally you would use pine nuts)
- ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 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. 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.
- Reduce the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut tomatoes in half, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Bake cut side facing up until tomatoes begin to shrivel and become juicy.
- While spaghetti squash and tomatoes are baking, start chopping the garlic along with about ⅓ of the basil leaves. Once this is loosely chopped, add more basil, chop some more, add the rest of the basil, and continue chopping. I scrape and chop, gather and chop.
- Add about half of the nuts, chop. Add the rest of the nuts and chop.
- Add half of the Parmesan cheese, chop. Add the rest of the Parmesan cheese, chop. In the end you want a chop so fine that you can press all the ingredients into a compact "cake".
- Transfer the pesto "cake" into a small bowl, not much bigger than the cake.
- Cover with a bit of olive oil, it doesn't take much, just a few tablespoons.
- 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.