Friday, 27 January 2012

Spaghetti squash with roasted tomatoes and pistachio-basil pesto


So this is not exactly a seasonal recipe. At granville island on the weekend I found some gorgeousely red little baby tomatoes that claimed to be grown in BC, surely in a green house. Upon tasting these maraschino red tomatoes at home I realized their appearance was very decieving. They tasted like water. Roasting them was the only way to redeem the money I spent on them. Also, I went to pick up a small bit of basil over the weekend for risotto but only large bags were available at the store. I was determined to use the basil in some pesto before the leaves turned black.

I also picked up a spaghetti squash from the farmers market this weekend and was pretty excited about making a spaghetti-impersonating recipe with roasted tomatoes and fresh basil. The recipe as a whole was great. Sadly, my spaghetti squash was a serious let-down. I have only made spaghetti squash once before and I remember it being delicious roasted, all on its own. I remember the spaghetti strands emerging almost like magic from the squash following baking. The squash I made today was tasteless and mushy and the strands were more like strings. Luckily the roasted tomatoes and pesto I used were full of flavour and so the final product was edible.

I plan on trying this recipe again immediately just to make sure there was not something seriously incorrect in my squash cooking process. Plus, the vision I had in my head of what I was exited to eat ended up so different than what I got. I need to satisfy my spaghetti squash craving. I wonder if the squash I used was even a spaghetti squash...

Less about the bad and more about the good. The good was the basil-pistachio pesto I made this evening. I decided to try my hand at pesto-making using my shiny new mortar and pestle (thank you Katherine for the Christmas gift card). The process was a little awkward at first. I started with some stirring, some banging, some side to side swiping. I was not sure exactly how to proceed but somehow, eventually, the green glop came together and was super tasty.

Spaghetti squash with roasted tomatoes and pistachio-basil pesto
The extra pistachios in this recipe are essential to add some crunch to the final dish. If you are more partial to pine nuts, then use them instead of the pistachios.

1 spaghetti squash
Extra virgin olive oil
15 grape tomatoes, cut in half
4 garlic cloves, divided
3 basil leaves, chopped
3 tbsp raw or roasted pistachios
fresh paremsan 

Pesto ingredients (makes about 1/3 cup) 
1 garlic clove
Sea salt
2 cups loosely packed basil leaves, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan
3 tbsp raw or roasted pistachios 

1 - Preheat oven to 350F.
2 - Cut squash in half, remove seeds, brush inside with olive oil and season with salt.
2 - Place squash on a baking sheet, cut side down.
3 - In a bowl, mix sliced tomatoes with basil, 2 crushed garlic cloves and sea salt.
4 - Spread on a baking sheet next to squash or on a separate sheet if needed.
6 - Roast tomatoes and squash about 1 hour.
7 - Also, wrap 2 garlic cloves in foil and roast with vegetables.
8 - Roast pistachios (for both pesto and final dish) in a pan for about 5 minutes if you are starting with raw pistachios. Monitor often, shake a few times, and be careful not to burn them.
9 - Meanwhile, make pesto in a food processor or with mortar and pestle. With mortar and pestle, start by mashing together the garlic and some sea salt.
10 - Next, add basil leaves (pre-chopped into smaller pieces) and mash until paste-like, dark green and mushy.
11 - Mash in about a tbsp of olive oil or more if desired.
12 - Grind in the parmesan, a little bit at a time until you like the consistency.
13 - Lastly add in the pistachios. And yes, keep mashing. 
Note: If the pesto is too wet for your liking add more pistachios or parmesan. If it is too dry, mix in more oil or even some lemon juice.
14 - Remove garlic, squash and tomatoes from oven. 
15 - When cool enough to handle but still warm/hot, scrape spaghetti-like strands from squash, using a fork, into a bowl.
14 - Into the squash, mix half of the pesto. Then toss in mashed/pressed roasted garlic cloves and season mixture with salt.
15 - Serve immediately squash mix topped with roasted tomatoes, pesto, chopped and roasted pistachios and grated parmesan.


  1. I am going to try this with acorn squash

  2. Acorn squash will definitely be better than the squash I used this day. But the spaghetti squash is supposed to actually look like strands of spaghetti after you cook it and thus be like a healthier version of a pasta dish. If it works let me know!!!