Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with Almond-Basil Pesto

Kelsey Bell is a twenty-five year old purveyor of unified wellness with a fervent love of yoga, positive energy, and people, currently living and working in New York City.  The Mindful Chef was born from that very love, as well as a genuine passion for cooking wholesome, nutritious meals that nourish the body and the soul. Her goal in creating The Mindful Chef was to develop an ever-changing and growing inspirational platform that could provide the tools to help others through their very own wellness journey, while fostering a community filled with support, encouragement, and positive vibes. 

There is something about Italian-inspired dishes that feel both comforting and satiating, and I love experimenting with new ways to create nourishing (and delicious!) adaptions inspired by Italian classics. Heavy sauces and simple carbohydrates can perpetuate feelings of lethargy and discomfort, and I was determined to develop a recipe that kept all the flavor while using whole foods and natural ingredients, while beating the bloat and discomfort that can result from processed ingredients.

Looking to protect my digestive system by fueling it with a well-rounded dish, this Stuffed Spaghetti Squash recipe is one of my favorite dinners, and can be easily whipped up!  This recipe is sure to please, whether you’re cooking for family or friends, or meal-prepping for the week. It definitely checks all the boxes from flavorful to wholesome and balanced, while relinquishing the heavy cream, tomato sauce, excessive amounts of processed cheese, and processed carbohydrates that are troublesome on the digestive system. Packed with veggies, essential vitamins and minerals, protein, and fiber—all of which will keep you feeling happy and healthy, you’re getting the best of everything with this dish!

Ingredients:

1 large spaghetti squash (cut in half, seeds removed)
1 cup of cherry tomatoes (washed and sliced)
1 small bunch of asparagus (washed and roughly chopped)
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of quinoa (rinsed)
1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil for roasting + 1 tablespoon for sautéing
pink Himalayan sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper
Fresh parmesan cheese or vegan cheese of choice, if desired

For the Almond-Basil Pesto:

1 cup of thinly sliced fresh basil
1 clove of fresh garlic
1/4 cup of raw almonds
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
pink Himalayan sea salt to taste

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place each half of the spaghetti squash in a deep baking dish. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil over the spaghetti squash. Place the baking sheet in the oven, roasting the spaghetti squash for 35 minutes.

While the spaghetti squash is roasting, prepare quinoa on the stove top. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, add 1/2 cup of quinoa and reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes—until all water has been absorbed.

In food processor or powerful blender (I use my Nutribullet!), combine all of the ingredients for the pesto. Pulse 15 seconds. Using a spoon, remove pesto from the walls of the blender and the blades. Pulse for an additional 15 seconds. *You can add an additional teaspoon of olive oil if you feel as though it is a little too dry.

As the squash and quinoa cook, add one tablespoon of olive oil to a sauté pan and heat over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and the asparagus, cooking 5-8 minutes, until the veggies are tender. Remove from heat.

Once the quinoa is cooked, transfer the quinoa from the pot and mix with the veggies in the sauté pan until well combined. *Add in your cheese of choice here, either fresh parmesan or vegan cheese, if desired, and mix well.

Remove the spaghetti squash from the oven. Scoop the quinoa and veggie mixture into each half until it is full. Store any of the remaining quinoa and veggie mixture in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Once each half of the squash is stuffed with the quinoa mixture, return the baking dish to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove the baking dish from the oven. Using a fork, pull the “spaghetti” from the rind of the squash, mixing with the quinoa and veggie stuffing. Using a spoon, transfer the spaghetti to bowls.

Garnish with additional fresh basil, cheese of choice (if desired), sea salt, and fresh cracked pepper, and serve.

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