Recipe: Spaghetti Squash with Spinach Pesto

Here at Hope4Cancer, we know that shifting your diet in a healthy direction is no small feat. Unfortunately, the modern food landscape pushes us in the direction of nutrient-poor choices: fast food, processed items and few fresh fruits and vegetables. It can be challenging to say no to old favorites and yes to new options that are better for our bodies. That’s why we’re excited to share this recipe for spaghetti squash with spinach pesto. This nutrient-packed dish mimics traditional pasta, but without the empty calories.

Squashes, in all their forms, are some of the most versatile and nutritious vegetables available. Different varieties of squash can strengthen the immune system, protect your heart, prevent inflammation, prevent cancer and so much more — and spaghetti squash is no exception.

One glance at this canary-colored gourd and you’re likely to wonder: how can this be transformed into anything like pasta? And furthermore, does it taste anything like pasta? From a texture perspective, spaghetti squash resembles a vermicelli or angel hair pasta. After it is roasted, spaghetti squash can be scooped out of its shell and served just like spaghetti. While it does not taste quite like traditional pasta, it’s a wonderful vehicle for a flavorful sauce. In this recipe, the squash is mixed with a tasty spinach pesto.

Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse, a strong source of Vitamin A and iron. Traditional pesto relies on cheese and oil for its richness, but this recipe employs nutritional yeast instead, enhancing the “umami,” or pleasant savory taste.

Enjoy this spaghetti squash with spinach pesto as a hearty lunch, or pair it with a side salad for a rounded dinner. Consider it comfort food, but guilt-free and full of nutritious ingredients!

Spaghetti Squash with Spinach Pesto

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • For the pesto:
    • 2 cups packed spinach (rinsed and cleaned thoroughly)
    • ½ cup packed fresh basil leaves
    • ½ cup pine nuts
    • ⅓ cup nutritional yeast
    • ½ cup olive oil
    • 2 cloves fresh garlic
    • ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare spaghetti squash for roasting: slice the squash in half and scrape out the seeds and strings, stopping just as you reach the flesh.
  3. Place squash halves in a roasting pan, cut side down. Add a splash of water to the pan to hasten the steaming process.
  4. Roast the squash for 30-45 minutes. Smaller squashes roast more quickly than larger ones, so check the squash at 30 minutes to gauge cooking. The squash is done when tender and flexible to the touch.
  5. While squash is roasting, prepare the pesto. Combine all the ingredients (spinach through salt) in a mini food processor. Blend together until pureed. Set aside until squash is prepared.
  6. When done, remove the squash. Let cool slightly, then use a fork to gently pull the squash flesh from the peel and separate into strands. The strands wrap around the squash horizontally, so pull your fork in the same direction as the spaghetti strands for the longest “noodles.”
  7. Distribute squash evenly among plates, and top with equal portions of the pesto. Serve immediately.

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