If I had mad Photoshop skills, I could turn this dish bright green. Scary green, even. Fortunately, I don't have that ability, and anyway, I want you to see how this luscious spaghetti squash really looks once it's been tossed in pesto and sits for a few minutes. Not gorgeous, I admit, but the garlicky aroma and melty cheese and crunchy cashews and creamy beans, all together, more than make up for the color. I'm rediscovering spaghetti squash, a low-calorie alternative to pasta, and a vegetable plentiful in the market at least three seasons of the year. Although I've been cooking spaghetti squash in my new pressure cooker, you can bake it in the oven, and either method works perfectly in this dish. It's not yet fresh basil season here in New England, so you have my permission to substitute good quality store-bought pesto if necessary. If you're not vegetarian and want to tuck a bit of shredded cooked chicken or shrimp in here, you have my permission to do that, too.
Spaghetti squash with cashew basil pesto and white beans
For the pesto:
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 Tbsp roughly chopped cashews
1 large clove of garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 Tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
For the squash:
1 2-lb spaghetti squash
3 Tbsp cashews
15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, chop the basil, cashews and garlic to a coarse mixture. Add the pepper, salt and oil, and process until smooth. Then add the 2 tablespoons of cheese, and pulse the mixer a few times to incorporate everything. Transfer the pesto to a small bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pesto, and refrigerate. (You can make pesto far ahead, and refrigerate or freeze it.)
Cook the spaghetti squash in a pressure cooker (fast) or the oven (not quite as fast).
Pressure cooker method: Trim off the stem end of the squash, and cut the squash in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Place the two halves in the pressure cooker and add 1 cup of water. Cook on High Pressure for 8 minutes, and use the Quick Release method to release pressure (follow the instructions that came with your pressure cooker). When the pressure valve drops, open the lid. Use tongs to remove the squash halves to a platter, and let them cool while you prep the rest of the dish. Then, use a fork to scrape the "spaghetti" out of the skin.
Oven roasting method: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Place the two halves cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle each half with extra virgin olive oil. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the squash is tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool while you make the rest of the dish; then, use a fork to scrape the "spaghetti" out of the skin.
While the squash is cooking, toast the cashews in a dry frying pan over low heat for 3-4 minutes, until the nuts are lightly browned. Remove from the stove and set aside.
Place the squash strands in a large mixing bowl. Add the beans, then the pesto. Mix gently with a rubber spatula; try not to break up the beans (too much -- it's impossible not to break a few of them). Stir in the cashews and cheese, and mix everything together.
Serve hot or at room temperature.
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Grilled artichoke pesto zucchini bites, from Fifteen Spatulas
Beef roulades with walnut parsley pesto, from Simply Recipes
Baked chicken stuffed with pesto and cheese, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Grilled pesto shrimp skewers, from Skinnytaste
Spinach artichoke pesto pizza, from Two Peas & Their Pod
Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.