This Spaghetti Squash topped with a Dairy-Free Pesto is bursting with flavors thanks to a hefty amount of fresh herbs and roasted tomatoes. ** This post was originally posted in Sept 2016. It was updated in Sept 2017 with new pictures and text.**
I often get asked by my friends what I cook when I don’t want to cook. And, yes, that does happen to me sometimes! I usually rely on left overs. You’re already in the kitchen, so why not make extra? I truly believe that is one of the first steps you can take in beginning to eat better on a regular basis. Make food that can be stored for a few days, or even better, takes to freezing and reheating well. (Spoiler alert – this is one of those meals that you can reheat!)
The other thing I do to keep my inspiration going is belonging to a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture (link on wikipedia about it). The short of it is that I get a box of organic produce from a local Minnesota farm delivered right to my grocery store every week. We just finished up our 10th week of the summer share with Featherstone Farm (Oh how I LOVE THEM!) and are heading into the fall share. A CSA can be daunting when you think about having to use up all that food in a week, but it can also be freeing. It is the ultimate answer to the notorious “what’s for dinner?” question – the answer is staring back at you from that box in the form of nutrient rich food.
(If looking at a bundle of produce and coming up with a plan of how to put it all together daunts you or simply doesn’t interest you, type a list of ingredients into google and behold the multitude of food bloggers providing you with options for dinner.)
Thus, as many of my posts have been lately, this one is also inspired by my CSA. My box was full of tomatoes and spaghetti squash among other things. Let’s run with it!
Spaghetti squashes can be cooked whole or cut in half. Some chefs are very particular about cooking it a specific way. I lean towards cutting it in half, removing the seeds, and cooking it face down. The edges of the squash brown a little, which is delightful for the eyes and mouth. However, the picture above does not show a squash cooked this way. My son needed my attention as I was testing this recipe, and thus the squash went in, halved, seeds in, and top up. The world continued to spin.
The spaghetti squash is topped with a dairy-free pesto that won’t have you missing the cheese. My solution to being dairy-free all these years has always been to substitute cheese with a ridiculous amount of fresh herbs. The flavor of fresh herbs is off the charts and the perfect stand-in.
There are two different ways to serve this meal. The first is with the pesto placed on top of the squash and the tomatoes on top of that, which I prefer in looks, but not in ease of eating. The second option is to use a fork to scrap the cooked squash flesh to create the “spaghetti” strands, mix the pesto with the strands, and finish it off with the tomatoes on top. This version gets more of the flavor into every bite and is what I describe in the recipe below.
- Cashews – Like all nuts, cashews can go bad or rancid easily, just with time. Their taste does not change when this happens. Grocery stores really should sell their nuts in a refrigerated section, but I understand financially why they don’t. Try to buy your nuts from a store that replenishes their stock often, and store them in your refrigerator once you get home.
- Tomatoes – Tomatoes are one of the “dirty dozen” – a crop, according to the Environmental Working Group, that has the most amount of pesticides used on it. If you can, buy them organic or grow them at home on your own. They are a take very well to be grown in a large pot on your bake patio or deck.
Spaghetti Squash with Pesto and Roasted Tomatoes
- 2 small - medium spaghetti squash
- 6 cups slicer roma or grape tomatoes, roughly chopped (chop before measuring)
- pistachios optional garnish
- 2 cups fresh basil
- 2 cups fresh parsley
- 1 cup pine nuts cashews can be substituted
- 1/2 cup olive oil a little more may be needed to get the processor blades to turn
- 3 medium-sized garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt *
Preheat oven to 400.
Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds.
Place the squash face down on a baking sheet at roast for 25-35 minutes depending on size. The squash are easily pierced with a fork when done.
If working with slicer or roma tomatoes, dice them into 1/2" pieces. Be sure to get as much of the water and seeds out of the pieces as possible.
If working with grape tomatoes, slice them in thirds or halves.
Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. (Try to cook with the squash if you have enough room, otherwise place foil over the squash after they are done, while the tomatoes are roasting.)
Place basil, parsley, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic cloves and salt in a food processor and blend until desired texture is achieved (15 seconds or so). Taste for extra salt.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
Remove tomatoes and squash from the oven. Allow the squash to cool slightly before using a fork to scrape the flesh, making long strands.
Drain as much water from the tomatoes.
Divide the pesto equally among the squash halves and mix it in well and place the roasted tomatoes on top of the pesto, squash mixture.
Garnish with extra basil, parsley, and/or pistachios (optional).
Recipe Notes* If using cashews, salt will need to be increased to at least 3/4 teaspoon.