Sunday, March 20, 2016

Pesto, Kale, and Mushroom Spaghetti Squash

Bowl of Pesto, Kale, and Mushroom Spaghetti Squash
Italian Style Spaghetti Squash

Recipe Adapted from

It’s spring! Though spring officially arrives today, it will be a month or more before we start seeing local spring veggies. In the meantime, using up last year’s harvest of winter squash is prudent, but boring. But with just a little bit of cheating—making a winter pesto with imported basil leaves or buying premade pesto at the market—last year’s spaghetti squash is elevated to Italianesque loveliness. Combined with in-season kale, onions, and mushrooms, plus a dose of Parmesan, garlic, and red pepper, this spaghetti squash awakens even the most jaded of winter palates.

I typically cook my spaghetti squash upside down in a pan of water, particularly at this time of year, to conserve moistness. Others prefer to bake it on a sheet without water, either upside down or right side up. Still others microwave it. For details beyond my basic recipe below, see my post about everything to know about cooking spaghetti squash.

Happy Spring! Please share your creative ideas about how to serve winter-into-spring spaghetti squash in a comment below.

Kale, Mushroom and Spaghetti Squash with Added Pesto and Parmesan
The Final Touch: Parmesan, Pesto, Olive Oil
Pesto, Kale, and Mushroom Spaghetti Squash
serves about 8

1 spaghetti squash, about 3 lbs.
2 tsp. butter
2 tsp. olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large or 2 small bunch/es kale
6 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 – 3 tsp. dried Italian herbs
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. butter
1 tsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. prepared pesto (premade, or see recipe below)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
a few grinds of black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Halve spaghetti squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place squash, cut sides down, in baking pan. Add about 1 inch of boiling water to pan. Place in preheated oven, and bake until tender, about 1 hour. When squash is done, remove halves from water and place on plate to cool. Set aside until they are cool enough to handle, at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, start the sauce. Remove kale from stems and slice or tear into bite-sized bits. You will have about 2 cups moderately packed.

Skillet with Kale, Onion, and Mushroom, with Prepared Spaghetti Squash waiting
Recipe in Progress
Melt 2 tsp. butter with the 2 tsp. olive oil in an electric skillet at about 300 degrees F (medium high heat). Add sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions start to become translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in mushrooms and kale. Then stir in Italian herbs, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt. Lower heat to medium-low, about 250 degrees. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors blend and kale wilts, about 5 – 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the strings of cooled spaghetti squash with a fork, and scrape the remaining insides out with a spoon. Make sure strands are separated and any chunky bits are small. You will have about 5 cups of squash.

Add spaghetti squash to mixture in skillet and turn up heat to medium high (300 degrees). Cook until heated through, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Transfer squash mixture to a large pasta dish or serving bowl. Toss mixture with 1 tsp. butter, 1 tsp. olive oil, and pesto. Add grated Parmesan, and toss again. Top with a few grinds of black pepper.

Serve with additional Parmesan, pesto, and/or oil if desired.

Kale, Olive Oil, Onion, Pesto, Parmesan, Garlic, Crushed Red Pepper, Italian Herbs, and Spaghetti Squash in Basket
Classic Italian Ingredients Plus Squash
Winter Pesto Recipe
makes ½ - 2/3 cup

1 small, fragrant, pre-packed bunch of basil
1 – 2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp. almonds
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsp. finely grated Parmesan

Strip off basil leaves from stem and cut into chiffonade. You will have about ¾ cup.

Chop garlic into small chunks. Place garlic, almonds, and olive oil in immersion blender. Grind together until all of the large pieces of nut are ground up and it looks uniform. Divide the basil chiffonade into 4 more or less equal parts and add each consecutively to the immersion blender, blending until smooth after each addition.

Thoroughly stir Parmesan into pesto. It’s now ready to serve over pasta, potatoes, spaghetti squash, etc. or use in a recipe. 

Served with Semi-Local Spring Greens and Hothouse Tomatoes

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