It can be hard to rein in your diet during the holidays. But it isn’t impossible. The colder months offer a range of healthy root vegetables and squashes that are in season — for instance, craving a creamy pasta? I present to you this Pesto Spaghetti Squash.
Spaghetti squash is aptly named because its flesh separates into spaghetti-like strands creating a high fiber, nutrient-rich pasta alternative. If you love spaghetti but want to limit your pasta intake because of extra holiday calories or carbs and limited time in the saddle, then you already have two reasons to choose this vegetable replacement. Furthermore, spaghetti squash also delivers a range of nutrients, including fiber and vitamins C and A
2 spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, chopped
⅓ cup chopped red onion
¼ cup thinly sliced Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil and/or parsley, plus extra for garnish
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
Sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese
4 cups chopped kale leaves, stems removed
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (substitute chopped cashews for vegan)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
(Can sub for refrigerated store-bought pesto)
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and ribbing.
Place the spaghetti squash cut side down on a baking sheet and use a fork to poke holes in the skin. Roast for 30 to 50 minutes or until lightly browned on the outside, fork-tender, but still a little bit firm. The time will vary depending on the size of your squash. Remove from the oven and flip the squash so that it’s cut side up. When cool to the touch, use a fork to scrape and fluff the strands from the sides of the squash.
While the squash is cooking begin to prepare the chickpea salad, combine the chickpeas, bell pepper, onion, olives, chopped basil and/or parsley, garlic, lemon juice, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt. Stir to combine. Taste, and add more lemon juice and/or salt if necessary. Set aside.
For the pesto place all the ingredients in a large food processor and pulse. If the mixture is lumpy, add 2-4 tablespoons of water and pulse again. Taste, then salt and pepper if needed.
To assemble, use a fork to fluff up the squash and make it easier to eat. Then divide the chickpea salad between the squash “bowls” and top each one with a generous drizzle of pesto. Finish with a sprinkle of chopped herbs and cheese, if desired. Serve immediately. Leftovers keep well for about 3 days; if you plan to have leftovers, store the pesto separately and top the squash with it just before serving.
**I like to make double the pesto and as a topping for pizza, grains salads and even a dip.**
This recipe was created by the CINCH Nutrition specialist Kourtney Danielson
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