If you've been following along here for a while, you've probably caught on to the fact that I tend to work backwards - meaning I never know what I'll be in the mood to cook/eat, so when I go shopping, I pick up whatever looks interesting to me at the time, without a clear use in mind, rather than knowing what I want to make and buying those ingredients. That said, I was left with a spaghetti squash and some broccoli that needed to be used up. I had been trimming off bits of broccoli and throwing them in salads for a few days, but I hadn't actually come up with a use for the whole head yet.
Fearing that if I kept putting off using those items, they would go to waste, I thought about how they could be used together. So what's a girl to do? I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. That's where I saw Adey's 80 Spaghetti Squash with Pesto. Hmmm, Broccoli Pesto? Another search assured me that wasn't a crazy idea, as plenty of hits came up. Okay then, let's do it!
When making a traditional Pesto, I use basil and pine nuts. I have more recently gotten into the habit of making a Kale-Almond Pesto, because I love kale and almost always have almonds in some form or another. This time, I remembered having picked up a bag of walnuts during the holidays and, not having used them for anything (again, I shop with no clear intent), stored them in the freezer, so why not use those?
1 Spaghetti Squash
1 lg crown of broccoli
1 c walnuts
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2 t salt
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 c parsley
1/2 c grated Parmesan
Juice of 1 lemon (zest too if you want - my lemon was already naked)
15-20 Grape or cherry tomatoes (a mix of colors is nice), halved
1/4 c shredded Mozzarella
1 T grated Parmesan
1 T seasoned dry bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 375
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise, using a spoon to scrape out the seeds
- Brush the inside of the squash with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake 20", cut-side down
- Flip the squash cut-side up and continue baking until tender (the squash easily pulls away from the skin) - you can leave it cut-side down if you want, but I like to get a little carmelization going
- When the squash is tender, use a fork to gently scrape the flesh away from the skin (sounds gross) and transfer to a casserole dish
- For the pesto, briefly blanch the broccoli in boiling water just to take that raw crunch off of it, then rinse in cold water until cool to stop the cooking process
- Add the walnuts, garlic, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes to the bowl of your food processor and pulse to break up the walnuts
- Add the broccoli, Parmesan, and lemon juice to the walnuts and process until well blended
- With the machine running, slowly pour olive oil through the feed tube until you achieve a texture you like - I prefer mine thick
- Toss the spaghetti squash with about a cup of the pesto and all of your halved tomatoes
- Top with shredded mozzarella
- Combined the remaining 1T of Parmesan with the bread crumbs and sprinkle over the top, dotting here and there with butter
- Return to oven until melted and bubbly
Refrigerate or freeze the remaining pesto for another use. I usually transfer it to silicon molds and freeze until solid, then pop them into a zip-top bag. If I thought of it at the time, this would have been a good opportunity to try out another idea I saw on Pinterest ... transfer all of the pesto to a zip-top bag, and use the side of your hand or the handle of a wooden spoon to press a grid into the pesto. That way, when you want to use some, you just snap off a portion or two where the lines are. If you want to try that with something thinner than pesto, you would probably want to freeze it for a while before making the dents.