It can be difficult and tricky to eat the way you’re used to when traveling away from home. Luckily, I’ve said a few time already how much I like rice and beans, so when I traveled to Nicaragua a few weeks ago, I ate a lot of this, along with avocado, roasted vegetables, and plantains. This past weekend, my sister and I visited our mom in Florida. This is just about the only other place, other than my own home, where I know I can still eat the way I’m used to. Sure we went to some restaurants that didn’t have many vegan options and I filled up on hummus and way too much pita bread, but for the most part, I ate the way I’m used to. We definitely are a handful though since my sister, Gabby, pretty much eats no bread or simple carbs. Happy Mother’s Day, right?
When we were shopping for produce, Gabby wanted to get a spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash always reminded me of one of my best friends, Becky, because when we were roommates she would make it all the time. Back in 2005, we would make it with Bolognese sauce. I loved it, but haven’t really made it too much since; I really don’t know why. But when my sister made it on Saturday, I became a born-again spaghetti squashee. Its natural taste is sweet and buttery, and because of its high water content, it’s a refreshing meal for the spring and summertime. Like other squashes, it is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. And since I like a smorgasbord of textures, I also collected all of the seeds from this squash (which look and taste exactly like its cousin the pumpkin), rinsed, baked, and added them to this dish.
Aside from this recipe being completely vegan, the entire meal is loaded with plant based protein. A lot of vegan pesto dishes call for nutritional yeast since it sort of has that cheesy taste that parmesan would normally give to this recipe, but this pesto has so much flavor to begin with, it doesn’t need it. And believe me, I tested it with nutritional yeast and this sauce doesn’t need any extra help.
- 2 cups packed basil (4-5 oz)
- 2 garlic cloves, whole
- 1/2 cup raw walnuts
- 1/4 cup pine/pignolia nuts
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus 2-3 Tbsp for squash and vegetables)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Optional – red/orange peppers, beets, or vegetables of your choice
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut the squash in half horizontally and remove seeds. (Save for later to rinse and bake if you wish.)
- Rub 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil onto flesh, along with black pepper, then place flesh side down onto a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour.
- Optional – Peel 1 beet and cut into 1 inch cubes, along with dicing 1 red pepper and 1 orange pepper into 1 inch strips. Drizzle about 1 Tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, onto vegetables and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
- Begin preparing the pesto by placing the pine nuts and walnuts on a pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes to toast.
- Add the basil, garlic, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper into a high speed blender/food processor and blend until smooth – about 30 seconds.
- Once spaghetti squash is cooked, take a fork and scoop out the flesh into a large bowl (as seen below).
- Remove excess liquid from squash by squeezing it with a dish towel or by hand.
- Pour the pesto on top and blend well. Add roasted vegetables. Bon Appétit!