Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Juju's Spaghetti Squash Cream Pesto Pasta

Wow! That title is a mouthful! 

I was inspired for this dish by a photo that I saw on Pinterest. It was called Spaghetti Squash Parm. 
Um. Hello! Sounds delicious!! 
Unfortunately for me, I could not trace the picture back to the link.
Fortunately for me (and for you), I have created my own! :)

Equally inspiring in this feat, was a little friend I like to call..

When weather is bad, the AeroGarden always saves the day! 
I received this as a gift from my mother-in-law. These are about the only plants that I can keep alive in my life. I love this thing dearly, because you can have fresh herbs in your dishes without the substantial mark up at the grocery store.

Any who, I needed to use up a LOT of basil. So I thought, hm....
I could make a pesto!
So that is exactly what I did after I trimmed all the basil.
Trimmed a LOT of basil.

So here is where this recipe gets complicated. I am going to separately explain each element that I made, because at the end, you put them all together to create this fantastic dish!
First up... 

Spaghetti squash noodles:

I started using spaghetti squash as noodles after we went paleo. It took me awhile to start using them because I had heard so many people that eat paleo complain about how boring the noodles are.
I am here to tell you that that is not the case!
It's what you DO with them that makes them not boring!

To make spaghetti squash noodles all you need is a spaghetti squash and some EVOO.

I preheated my oven to 425 degrees.

Then I chopped this bad boy in half hot dog style (yes, I am in first grade).

Starting in the center, take your knife and start slicing towards the end of the squash. Although it looks and sounds easy, it is not. I should have included a video of me BANGING my knife through the squash. I can only imagine what you would think.
Whatever you have to do to get this thing sliced, do it without reserve. Just please, be careful not to cut yourself or anyone else!

Once you get your squash cut in half you will see this...

See all that pumpkin inside looking stuff in the center? Like a halloween pumpkin? Take a spoon and scoop out the seeds and some/most of the pulpy inside. You do NOT have to be perfectionist on the pulp. This stuff will not be any different than the actual meat of the squash once it is baked.

Now that your oven is preheated and you haven't cut your finger off, place your squash on your stone or baking sheet, meat side up. Drizzle flesh with EVOO.

Turn squash over so that they are skin side up. Put in the oven and set your timer to 30 minutes.

If you are just using this recipe for making these noodles I will go ahead and finish with after you take your squash out of the oven.

Just a warning, they will be hot!!

Flip each squash over and get out a regular fork.
Using your fork, scape out the meat of the squash. As you start to scrape you will notice that it comes off in strings. These are your noodles!

If you are making this dish, while your spaghetti squash is in the oven, you can start making your...

Cream Pesto:

For the pesto, you need the following:

2 cups basil (I used 1 cup lemon basil and 1 cup globe basil)
1/2 cup walnuts (pine nuts are too expensive!)
2 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 cup coconut creamer (My FAV item at the grocery)
1 lemon, juiced
4-6 cloves garlic (I am OBSESSED with it so I do 6)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste

Put your basil, garlic, and nuts into the food processor and turn it on until fine.
With the processor on, drizzle in EVOO using the spout on your processor. 
Scoop out your mixture into a mixing bowl. Whisk in coconut creamer and lemon juice.
Add a lot of salt and pepper! Do it to taste, but I found that the more I added the better and more pronounced the flavors were.
I found this sweet spot where if you add enough salt, it REALLY brings out the flavors of the garlic and the fresh lemon juice. I included a picture so that you would know I meant a LOT of salt and pepper. Now add the cheese and mix well.

Once this is all mixed up, your pesto is done and ready to be added to the pasta mixture at the end.


For the rest of the pasta, you can add your own veggies according to what you like. This is what I added...

1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
1 purple onion, sliced
1 box portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 jar artichoke hearts, cut in half (so tasty)
1.2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed small

After everything was chopped up, I drizzled some EVOO into a large non-stick skillet on medium-high heat.
First I added my chicken until cooked on the outside (once it was white on the outside). This dish would still be awesome without chicken (just a hint for all you vegetarians out there).

Once the chicken was white, I added in the onions. 

I cooked these for a few minutes before adding the bell peppers. I cooked the mixture until the bell peppers were almost done (soft enough) before adding in the mushrooms. 

Once the mushrooms were soft enough, I poured this mixture into a side bowl. 
By this time, my veggies were done, my meat was done, my pesto was made, and the timer for my spaghetti squash had gone off. Now, take a fork and scrape out the inside of your spaghetti squash if you didn't already do that while everything was cooking up. Add this back to your pan on low heat. 
Add the veggies/meat and stir it all up.
At this point, I decided I wanted the dish to have an extra kick, so I added about 1/2 Tbsp of crushed red pepper flakes. It was spicy so only add it if you can handle it!
Now add the pesto to everything. Mix it up REALLY good so that everything is coated in the pesto cream mixture.
Make sure everything is heated through before you serve!

This is where I tried it, and LOVED it! 
I topped off each portion with a little parm for fun!
This is the kind of meal that reminds me why we went paleo. It also reminds me of why I don't consume noodles anymore. It really is that delicious.

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