For years, it seems, I’ve heard people rave about spaghetti squash being a dieter’s dream — super low calorie, high in fiber, low carbs, and a great substitution for real spaghetti. And quite frankly, I thought those people were full of it. I imagined spaghetti squash to be a sad consolation prize for those who, for whatever reason, were depriving themselves of the real thing.
Then I tried it. The verdict? Suffice it to say, I spent a good portion of my day today on a spaghetti squash scavenger hunt, frantically digging through piles of squash at various locations across the city, like an addict trying to get my fix (I guess I’m not alone in my affinity for the stuff; it was sold out just about everywhere I went). I’m not sure what it is that I love so much. It certainly isn’t an exact substitute for spaghetti; it’s crunchy and somewhat bland on its own. Yet I’m hesitant to call it a vehicle for sauce, either, because it’s worthy of some recognition of its own. Maybe I like the texture, or the child-like joy I get from using my fork to pull out perfect little transluscent strands.
And yeah, so maybe it is a great vehicle for a really great sauce. I especially like it with a pesto sauce, because it’s great served either hot or cold. The pesto here is inspired by a raw recipe from the cookbook Alive in 5, which my Aunt Pam kindly let me hang onto after I expressed an interest in a banana-date smoothie recipe from the book. I like the idea of raw sunflower seeds in the pesto, as I often try to pack as many nutrients and health benefits into a recipe when I’m working around a very healthy ingredient (here, the squash). Plus, given that Jillian Michaels hasn’t graced the presence of my T.V. screen since back when I had something to get in shape for (my wedding), and that a little thing called patatas bravas was the uncontested third wheel throughout our honeymoon, it doesn’t hurt to make a meal that can claim all-around healthy benefits and few carbs.
2 cups packed spinach
1 cup packed basil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1-2 tablespoons water (as needed)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (plus more to taste)
Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender until smooth. You may need to coax the ingredients a bit with a spoon if they’re being stubborn (I had to, as my blender is not the top-of-the-line). Toss pesto with cooked spaghetti squash until coated. Serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold. Taste for salt and add more to taste.
1 spaghetti squash, stem removed, halved lengthwise, seeds and pulp scraped out
Preheat oven to 350. Lay squash flat on a parchment-line baking sheet, flesh side down. Bake in preheated oven for 4o-45 minutes for softer squash, and 35-40 for a crunchier texture (I prefer the latter). Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before using your fork to scrape out the spaghetti-like flesh.