If you’ve never had spaghetti squash, it’s a fun dish to serve. Yes, it’s squash. No, it’s not really pasta, but it plates up to look very similar to spaghetti strands. Versatility is the name of the spaghetti-squash game, because whatever topping you’d add to traditional pasta, you can add to spaghetti squash, too.
I’ve been preparing (i.e., cleaning the house) for a cousin from Italy to arrive for a week. Very exciting! Leading up to the visit, I wanted to keep our meals as easy as possible (i.e., keep the messes to a minimum so all my cleaning isn’t in vain). When I came across an organic spaghetti squash at the grocery store recently, I thought I could use the basil from our garden to make a pesto sauce for it. I imagined Spaghetti Squash “Pasta” with Pesto and Roasted Tomatoes would be a great meal. I wasn’t disappointed.
I also saw some irony making this particular “pasta” prior to hosting an Italian visitor. Mangia!
Recipe for: Spaghetti Squash “Pasta” with Pesto and Roasted Tomatoes
- 1 large spaghetti squash
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, packed (more or less to taste)
- 1-2 garlic cloves, to taste
- Juice and zest from half a lemon
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
- Pierce the squash all over with a sharp knife. Cook it in the microwave for 3-4 minutes to soften it. Carefully remove it from the microwave and allow it to cool slightly.
- Use a very sharp, large kitchen knife to cut it in half, vertically. Scoop out the seeds and discard them (or clean them and toast them for a snack).
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the cut side of the squash. Rub it over the smooth portion of the squash, and into the well of the squash, too.
- Put the squash, cut side down, on the baking sheet and cook for 40-50 minutes.
- As the squash is cooking, prepare your pesto.
- Add the basil leaves, 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and zest, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and pine nuts to a food processor. Pulse until the pesto begins to come together. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the mixture and pulse again until it is well blended (the pesto won’t be completely smooth). Set the pesto aside.
- When the squash has finished cooking, remove it and allow it to cool to the touch.
- Add the tomatoes to a shallow pan and drizzle them with olive oil. Cook for 5-8 minutes, or until they begin to blister and open. Remove them from the oven and keep them warm.
- When the squash is cool to the touch, stand each half up vertically, and use a fork to scrape the insides in a downward motion. The flesh will fall out like strands of spaghetti. You may need to warm the “pasta” in the microwave on a platter for a few minutes prior to serving.
- Serve on individual plates, topped with the pesto and roasted tomatoes.