Meat Free Monday: Pesto Spaghetti Squash

Pesto Spaghetti Squash is such and easy weeknight dinner that you can make in 30 minutes (or less). Toss the spaghetti squash in pesto, add the tomato, kalamata olive, seasoning and crumbled feta and you got yourself a delicious low-carb dinner. Give it a try! 

Spaghetti Squash

I had been making Spaghetti Squash more often than I used to. I guess one of the perks of working from home (WFH) is being able to eat whatever I feel like for lunch on the spot. It’s freshly cook or bake, and on that aspect, I really like it although I miss sharing my food with my friends. I can even make my foil packets recipe for lunch, how nice is that! Fresh juicy salmon wrapped and steamed in a foil. Anyways, this Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash is one my favorite lunch now a days. A 2 lbs of spaghetti squash makes 2-3 meals for me, plus it is very easy to make especially if I do the microwave method. Lunch in less than 30 minutes. 

Spinach Pesto Spaghetti Squash 2

How to Make Pesto Spaghetti Squash

The most the you need to do here to prepare the spaghetti squash and to make the pesto if you are not using store-bought pesto. You can choose between the microwave method or the oven method, I have a short discussion for both method below. For the pesto, I used my homemade Spinach Pesto, you can use store-bought as well. But seriously guys, making pesto at home is so easy you have to give it a try, that is if you have a mini food chopper, blender or food processor. I haven’t tried making it manually though. Once you have these ready, all that needs to be done is to combine and toss everything in a bowl. Easy breezy!

Spinach Pesto at SweetNSpicyLiving.com

How to Make Homemade Pesto

Pesto is a thick sauce (almost like a paste) usually made by blending garlic, pine nuts, coarse salt, basil leaves, cheese and olive oil. It can used for pasta, for salad as well as for flatbread and pizza too.

Making pesto sauce at home is not as easy as it sounds. As long as you have a food chopper, blender or food processor, you can make your own pesto at home. Sadly, it is going to be difficult to make this manually as you want everything to be almost like a paste consistency. I like to use Spinach when making pesto, but you can go with a more traditional recipe using Basil or perhaps a combination of both. Making pesto is basically just blending everything together until the mixture turns into a paste like consistency. Once done, simply transfer it in an airtight container and pour more oil to cover the top.

Spinach Pesto Spaghetti Squash

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

The most difficult part of using spaghetti squash is the cutting part because the squash is quite hard. I almost gave up on it, but then with few small tricks, it made the process easier. There are 2 ways that you can do it, here are your options of cooking the spaghetti squash

Microwave Method

If you are in a hurry, this is the fastest and easiest way to cut open and cook the spaghetti squash. First, you need to poke holes around the squash to allow the steam to come out, this is very important. Microwave it, start with 5 minutes for medium size squash (about 1 -2 lbs). The length of time depends on how big your squash is, adjust in 2 minutes increments. To test if it is done, simply push a sharp knife in the center, if the knife pass through end to end with no effort at all, then it is done. You can start cutting it into half, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with salt and spices of your choice.

Oven Method

In this method, you have to cut the Spaghetti Squash in half before roasting it in the oven. Use the microwave to slightly soften the skin for easier cutting. About 4 minutes for medium size Squash. Trim one end so that it can easily stand when you cut it in half. Remove the seeds and sprinkle with olive oil and spices of your choice. Finish the cooking in the oven by baking/roasting it at 350F for about 35 – 40 minutes. Let cool until manageable to handle, then cut into half and scrape the inside. You can now use it in any spaghetti squash recipe, flavor it as desired. Although this takes longer than straight forward microwave only method, I find that roasting the squash produces better flavor. The squash have ample time to absorb the flavor of the oil, seasoning and spices as it roast in the oven. I also like how it gave a slight browning, it brings out the sweetness and the depth of flavor. So I encourage you to roast your spaghetti squash, unless you are in a tight schedule then go ahead and microwave it. Just like the microwave only method, the length of time also depends on the size of the squash. The ideal size for me is about 1 – 3 lbs, often times i stick to 1-2 lbs if it is just for me.

Do NOT Over Cook

Important thing to remember, regardless which method you decide to use, do NOT over cook the squash. You don’t want a mushy spaghetti squash and you do not want to destroy the trademark of spaghetti squash which is the lovely noodles like strand. Make it aldente just like when you cook your pasta, trust me, it makes a huge difference. Making use of spaghetti squash is all about texture, mushy spaghetti squash is a No. No.

Are you ready? Choose which method you want to use and let us make some healthy delicious Caprese Spaghetti Squash. You are going to love this, promise.

How to Cut Spaghetti Squash

Oven Method: How to Cut and Prepare Spaghetti Squash

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  2. Microwave the Squash: Poke holes all over the squash with a fork or a knife, then microwave for 4minutes. The squash that I used is 2.5 lb, increase the time as needed if your squash is bigger. The idea is not to cook the squash, but to soften the skin of the squash a little bit for easier cutting. Remove from the microwave and let cool.
  3. Cut the Squash into Half. Start by trimming one of the the hard end of the squash. This will help the squash to be in an upright position while you cut it in half. Using a sharp knife, mark a line on the squash (this is called scoring), this will serve as a mark that you can follow. Cut the squash into half, following the line that you have created. Remove the seeds and clean the center.
  4. Spice it Up: Drizzle olive oil and brush all throughout the squash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper or any of your favorite spice.
  5. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes. The bigger the squash, the longer baking time you need. Check it 30 minutes mark to see if the center is already soft but not mushy. You don’t want to over bake it as you will end up with a mushy squash and the strand of the squash will be deformed. Remove from the oven and let cool until you can handle it.
  6. Remove the Squash “Meat”: Using a fork, gently scrape the squash. If you cook it right, it should come off easily without any effort. Transfer in a bowl and let cool before covering and storing in the refrigerator, otherwise use as per your recipe.

How to Use Spaghetti Squash?

Spaghetti squash can be used in variety of ways. You can used it as a replacement for pasta, I guess that’s the main idea of spaghetti squash. It goes well with white and cream based sauce, or just plain butter and garlic with herbs and spices. You can also use it as side dish to meat like Chicken, Beef, Lamb and even Fish. For this post, I made 4 Cheese and Garlic Spaghetti Squash. Check it out!

Vegetarian Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash Salad Ingredients:

  • Medium Spaghetti Squash (950g) 
  • 1/4 cup Pesto
  • 15 pieces cup Cherry Tomato – cut into half
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata Olives – whole or sliced
  • 2 tablespoon Red Onion – thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
  • 1/4 cup Feta Cheese – crumbled

Instructions:

  • Prepare the Spaghetti Squash. Scrape the “meat” and set aside. See the discussion above on how to cut and prepare Spaghetti Squash.
  • Mix All: Add the pesto, kalamata olive, tomato, red onion, salt, peppers and crumbled feta. toss combine.

Make it Vegan

Alternatively, if you want to keep this vegan, simply use a vegan cheese or skip the cheese entirely. This taste as good even without the cheese.

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Hi, I'm Marilou. Welcome to my website SweetNSpicyLiving. My website is where I share my passion for baking, cooking, photography and traveling. It's a small piece of my Sweet & Spicy Life that I like to share with you.

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