I wish spaghetti squash had come into my life earlier! This is a great dish to have for a vegetarian night or as a side dish. It is lighter than eating a big bowl of pasta and much better for you. And hopefully your kids will like it. I am trying. I really am. But my kids are not that adventuresome when it comes to food. I always ask them to try what I make but with little success. If I buy a different type of chicken nugget than they are used to- oh boy. It’s as though I have committed a terrible crime and I have to spend then next five minutes convincing them that it will taste the same as the other chicken nuggets and to just PLEASE try ONE bite. After much convincing (and yes, sometimes bribing) I will get Max to try a bite and usually he will say. “I like it!” but sometimes he doesn’t. It’s the trying that counts. Right? The other night Max tried a spinach leaf from my salad without much convincing. He liked the first bite but not the second bite. Small steps…
Last night I was making them sweet potato slices which I bake in the oven. I thought I would put multiple vegetables on their plate in hopes that they would eat more vegetables since there was more variety. I sliced cucumbers (in small triangle for Cecilia and in long strips for Max), red peppers and baby carrots, as well as the baked sweet potato slices. Cecilia, my 2 year old, looked at her plate, pointed to each item and said, “I don’t like that, I don’t like that, I don’t like that and I don’t like that.” So much for my strategy! But there was a small victory…Max hasn’t eaten a cucumber in months but since then didn’t look the way I usually slice them ( and I took out the seeds), he ate them without a word of coercing from me. Another vegetable I can add to his “like” list.
I don’t usually hide vegetables in my kids’ food, mostly because they don’t eat food with sauces- not even ketchup. I am hoping they will learn to like the vegetable for what it is. So far on the “like” list are sweet potatoes, red peppers (and yellow and orange), broccoli (with soy sauce), soy beans, and now cucumbers. Cecilia also likes fennel and sometimes cauliflower. Carrots somehow are on the “no” list right now but maybe if I slice them up differently they will eat them. Who knows? For a while Max would only eat the skin of the apple at his Nonna’s house, as though the skin on her apples are so different from the ones I buy. He also would only eat his Grandpa’s eggs. That was problematic since Grandpa lives in Denver. But it’s all in due time and they are always surprising me. On New Years Day, Max ate the eggs his Dad made, said they were delicious and that he wanted to eat eggs for breakfast every morning. It was a good culinary start to 2012 and I hope he continues to move in that direction.
Anyway, back to the squash. This is a simple dish. I could probably eat pesto on anything and it goes nicely with the spaghetti squash. If you wanted a vegetarian dinner, you could have this and a salad and be done. I actually just made this and called it dinner. Luckily Eric had a big lunch that day.
Pesto is quick and easy to make and the pistachio adds such a great flavor. I added some whole pistachios on top for texture and taste. You could certainly make a traditional pesto using pine nuts but if you like pistachio’s give this a try. I had it for lunch the next day after heating it in a skillet and it got a little crisp and was delicious! I would not recommend using the microwave to reheat food…it kills the nutrients of the food, makes food mushy and really isn’t good for your health.
Squash can be hard to cut into. One thing you could do it cook it in the oven whole for about 10 minutes and then take it out and let it cool. Then cut into it. But if you have the strength and a good knife, go for it.
Spaghetti Squash with Pistachio Pesto
1 Spaghetti Squash
2 cups Basil
1/2 cup shelled Pistachios
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon Salt (add more to taste)
Heat oven to 400 degrees. With some muscle strength and a good knife, cut the squash in half, lengthwise. Remove seeds and brush with some olive oil or butter. Bake for 45-1 hour, until squash is soft and starting to brown. Meanwhile, make the pesto. Toast the pistachios in a skillet for about 5-8 minutes, watching that they don’t burn. In a cuisanart, Add 1/4 cup of the toasted pistachios and pulse several times. Then add the basil, garlic, salt and olive oil and pulse until blended. I like a coarse pesto, so I can see the pieces of basil. Add the parmesan and pulse for a few seconds. When the squash has cooled slightly, take a fork and go back and forth and spoon to spaghetti into a bowl. Add the pesto and mix well. Sprinkle with the remaining pistachios and some Parmesan and serve.