Baked Spaghetti Squash with Cavolo Nero Pesto
A delicious Autumnal twist on the average Spaghetti with Pesto, my re-invented vegetable-based version is ideal for those on a gluten & grain free diet AND can be made dairy free & vegan friendly too!
- 2 spaghetti squash large
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- sea salt
- 100 g cavolo nero (or black kale), washed & dried (discard stalk)
- 30 g pine nuts toasted
- 55 g Parmesan cheese grated or 55g nutritional yeast, (if dairy-free or vegan)
- 13-14 tbsp. olive oil (1 tbsp. olive oil for frying, if you’re not steaming, 9 tbsp. for blending, 4 tbsp. olive oil for finishing)
- 2 -4 pinches sea salt or herbamare
- black pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 425°F, gas mark 7, 220°C (200°C fan-assisted).
- Spread the pine nuts out on a baking tray and toast until lightly browned, tossing occasionally – this should take about 10 minutes BUT keep an eye on them as they will burn quickly. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds (see Lisa’s Tip) and season the flesh lightly with sea salt before drizzling with a touch of olive oil.
- Place the squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet lined with a My Relationship with Food silicon baking mat or parchment paper and then drizzle a little more olive oil over the spaghetti squash.
- Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until the flesh of the squash is tender and a knife goes into it easily – start checking after 30 minutes but if it’s a large squash then it could take up to 90 minutes.
- Whilst the squash is in the oven, make the Cavolo Nero pesto.
- Cut the Cavolo Nero leaves away from the tough central stalk, throwing away the stalk or keeping it for other recipes.
- Place the leaves in a steamer (I use a lidded bamboo basket lined with parchment paper, but you can also use the microwave or a fine mesh sieve with a plate on top to cover) and place over a saucepan of boiling water, steaming the leaves for 10 minutes then removing and leaving to cool.
- Once the leaves are cool, squeeze the excess moisture out of them using either your hands or a clean tea towel. Alternatively, the leaves can be fried in a non-stick frying pan over a gentle heat until wilted and then left to cool – then there will be no need to squeeze out the moisture when taking this approach.
- Place the cooled leaves into the bowl of food processor along with the Parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast flakes), pine nuts and 9 tbsp. olive oil and process until roughly chopped, stopping occasionally and wiping down the sides. Season with sea salt and black pepper and then continue to process until thoroughly combined. Check for seasonings, you can also add extra oil at this stage if you prefer your pesto looser.
- Decant the finished pesto into an airtight container or jar (I use a Kilner jar) and top with 4 tbsp. olive oil. If not using straight away, the pesto will keep in the fridge for 1 week. You might need to loosen up once it’s been in the fridge with some extra olive oil.
- When the spaghetti squash is cooked, turn it over and, using a fork, pull the flesh lengthwise into spaghetti like strands. If serving the spaghetti squash directly from the shell (this is my favourite way of serving it) then add 1-2tbsp of pesto and combine thoroughly with the “pasta” before serving OR, if you prefer to serve directly on a plate, place the squash strands in a large bowl, mix in the pesto and then serve, topping with a little more grated Parmesan cheese and accompanied by a side salad if desired.
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LISA’S TIP - Spaghetti squash looks similar to other winter squash varieties and, when raw, the flesh is the same BUT when cooked, the flesh falls away into spaghetti like-strands - perfect for those who are following a grain-free lifestyle or just fancy a change from regular pasta! If you aren’t able to find spaghetti squash you can use another vegetable-based pasta (e.g. courgetti) or your preferred alternative and the Cavolo Nero for the pesto can be substituted for kale, or spinach. Don’t just use the pesto for pasta – it’s also delicious on cooked fish or chicken or just spread on bread (try it on The Little Loaf!) Don’t throw away the seeds from your spaghetti squash! Separate from any remaining flesh, pop into a sieve and rinse clean, patting dry on a paper towel. Season with your choice of spice (I like cumin or cinnamon) and toast until crisp – a delicious, nutritious alternative to croutons on soup or a salad or just as a snack!