Cilantro Pesto Spaghetti Squash
I suffer from what I like to call “Wrong Season Syndrome” (WSS). This usually involves singing Christmas carols in April, choosing my Halloween costume in July and, oh!, make homemade pesto in February, the night before a big blizzard is about to hit. Even though I knew it was wrong, I was craving pesto sooo much (and had been wanting to make some since I got a food processor for my birthday) that I just had to make it. WSS, you got me again!
Decision, decisions. Pesto is so wonderfully versatile you can use any herb (or mixture of herbs) you want! My Mom always had a herb garden, and taught me (through years of practice) to tell apart every herb by sight and smell. I like to think of myself as very knowledgeable on the subject of “which herb would work best?” Since Z likes a tang to all of his food, I went for cilantro. A controversial herb; people either hate it or love it! I am a convert; while I used to turn my nose away from it, I now try to put it in anything I can.
I didn’t want WSS to take over my entire meal (the shame!) so I thought “hmmm, what could bring the winter into pesto?” Squash! But not just any squash, but the most awesome freak of nature squash of the spaghetti variety! Seriously, I can’t even begin to bend my mind around how Mother Nature created this vegetable, which on the outside looks like any old squash, but on the inside peels away in perfect strands. It is amazing, and I love it! It also helps that it is such a wonderfully simple gluten free alternative.
Cilantro Pesto Spaghetti Squash (with Lemon Chicken)
For the Pesto:
1 bunch cilantro
1-2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of olive oil
either 1/4 Parmesan cheese or (magic ingredient!) 2 Tbsp miso*
*A note on this: I discovered miso as a sub for cheese while doing research on raw food. It works amazingly! Don’t believe me? Just try it! Plus, extra soy protein :)
Put all of the ingredients in a food processor except for the oil.
Put on the lid, start the processor, and slowly pour in the oil through the feeding tube. This should all take about 10 seconds.
The only word to describe this picture is mmmmmm!
For the Squash:
Cut the spaghetti squash in half, cover on a microwavable plate, and cook for 15 minutes, or until fork tender.
Then, using a fork, start gently scraping away at the inside of the squash. It will start to come away in strands. You can also use a spoon around where the skin is to try to scoop it out. Really this is the most challenging part of the meal. The delicious strands just don’t want to leave their warm home! I almost had a fit, so Z had to come in and handle them :)
For the Chicken:
The chicken is an optional part of the recipe…you could also do this with some veggies (or roast veggies! yum!) or fish or shrimp or….
I took a few chicken tenders, covered them with some salt, pepper, and olive oil, and lightly pan fried them until they were done.
Toss some pesto and squash together, and serve the chicken on top. The results were ah-ma-zing!
I love how spaghetti squash is warm and comforting, but maintains its veggie crunch even after its cooked. This was the perfect light and healthy meal. Z even likened his love for it to my Jamaican Jerk chicken which, well, is just unheard of! We had a ton of the squash left over, too, so it will definitely atop my lunch salad.
[Meal costs: Spaghetti squash: $3.97, Chicken tenders: $2, Cilantro: $1.49, 2 garlic cloves, olive oil, and miso: on hand. Total cost: $7.46 for 2 people]
Meal Plan Game Plan Update and Review
So far, my meal planning has been going well, but not as well as I had hoped.
-Using Google tasks and calendar are great! I have also started putting in when things like meat and dairy products will go bad, so I can make sure to use them!
-My shopping lists have been accurate, and I don’t need to run out to buy things throughout the week.
-We are having to eat out/order in less because we have the meals planned.
-I am getting too excited about all the recipes I see! I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself to cook extraordinary things.
-We have been spending about $50 a week, but this week we had to go through and take out a bunch of things to keep it at that number. Is $50 still too much?
-We have been buying some ingredients we don’t regularly use, and then don’t finish them in a recipe.
The next step in my game plan is going to be to simplify our weeknight meals. Looking back since Yumventures began, I’ve been cooking up a storm! Which I love, but I realize that sometimes we get busy, and every meal can’t be an attempt at something gourmet. Next week I will start trying the following steps:
-Find recipes for simple, quick meals that are also healthful and exciting
–Search online for more coupons for foods we regularly buy
-Try using Stop & Shop’s Peapod delivery service (to minimize mindless purchasing)
-Keep in mind our fitness goals (fast, cheap meals can often lead to unhealthy choices!)
-Try making 1 vegetarian meal a week (meat is expensive!)
I might wake up to A LOT of snow tomorrow :) I hope everyone in the Northeast is staying warm!