Pesto Spaghetti Squash

Sometimes you just need a simple, easy, healthy meal.   Let me be honest.  I am really not a huge pasta fan/eater.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy pasta dishes from time to time.  I just rarely come home from work and think to myself, “I could go for a big plate of pasta!”

Pesto Spaghetti SquashDon’t stress if your squash is not perfectly cut, you will be scraping out the spaghetti after it is done cooking and no one will know! 

It’s not a health/carb thing.  Believe me, my love for crusty baguettes dipped in olive oil proves that I LOVE CARBS.  I just don’t love pasta.  I do love veggie alternatives to pasta.

Pesto Spaghetti SquashThe half that is pictured in the background is the way the squash should be positioned when baking in the oven.

You can use zucchini, carrots, cauliflower as a substitute for pasta/rice…but my favorite switcheroo is spaghetti squash.  I have had more than one cashier at the grocery store ask me if I actually eat the squash or just have it as a decorative piece.  I know that it can be intimidating to look at the squash and look at the end product “spaghetti” and figure out how to get the final product.  It really is easy.  Just read the steps below :)

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I made my own kale pesto (https://bonappeteek.com/2014/11/19/kale-pesto/) and decided to throw some cheese and sun-dried tomatoes into the mix.  Then you get to enjoy a big bowl (or two) of spaghetti without the guilt.

Pesto Spaghetti Squash

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Servings: 2-4

The Players: 

1 spaghetti squash
2 T extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
1/2 C pesto
2 T sun-dried tomatoes in oil
freshly grated parmesan as garnish

The Rules: 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F and line a baking pan with aluminum foil.
  2. Cut your spaghetti squash in half, length-wise.  (Note: Insert a sharp knife into the squash, do not cut through to the other side.  Then move the knife in a sawing motion toward you.  Turn the squash as you cut it, similar to an avocado.)
  3. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds from each half of the squash.  Rinse the squash.  Drizzle the inside surface of each squash half with olive oil.
  4. Transfer the squash to your baking sheet, with the rounded sides facing up.  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.  Then flip the squash so the hollowed out surface is facing up.  Bake for remaining 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool 10-15 minutes before handling.
  5. When you are able to handle the squash, use a fork to loosen the “spaghetti” from the outside shell/skin.  Do this by scraping in a downward motion.  Transfer the spaghetti squash to a bowl and discard the outer skin of the squash.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine.  Serve warm (preferably with a glass of your fav vino)!

Pesto Crusted Pork Chops

Pesto Crusted Pork Chops

Pork chops.  I have to admit that I do not make pork chops often.  I tend to cook with chicken or seafood and occasionally I throw some sausage into the mix.  Pork chops are not a common meal plan in this household.  Every so often I feel that we are in a protein rut and I reach for pork chops or pork loin.

Pesto Crusted Pork Chops

After all, it is the other white meat ;) kinda, sorta healthy?  You can use bone-in or bone-less pork chops.  For this recipe I went with boneless since I wanted to have a nice even crust from the pesto.   Pork chops are great plain, breaded, or crusted.  You do have to be careful not to dry them out if you opt to bake them.  That is why I like to pan sear the pork chop.  I buy the meat thin enough so that there is a quick cook time.

Pesto Crusted Pork Chops

If you’re like me and always have pesto, or the ingredients to make your own pesto, on hand this is a great, simple, and quick meal to throw together.  They take less than 5 minutes to cook so they are a great week-night meal.  The comfort of something home-made without all the fuss!  You can pair the pork chops with a salad, a carb of choice, or a hash like I did.  I threw the leftover pork chops on a bed of spinach and veggies and had it for lunch the following day :)

Pesto Crusted Pork Chops

This recipe will definitely be one I keep up my sleeve whenever we are look for a change of pace in our weekly meal planning.

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Servings: 4

The Players:

4 boneless top loin pork chops (~1/4-inch thick)
1/2 C pesto (https://bonappeteek.com/2014/11/19/kale-pesto/ )
1 T extra virgin olive oil (alternatively: non-stick cooking spray)
sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

The Rules: 

  1. Prepare your pork chops by lightly seasoning each side of the meat with sea salt and cracked pepper.
  2. Using a spatula, spread ~1 tbsp of pesto on each side of the pork chop.  Ensure that the face of the pork chop has an even coating of pesto.
  3. Preheat oil in large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  (Note: if using cooking spray then preheat pan and spray right before adding the pork chops)
  4. Add the pork chops, pesto-side facing downward to the pan, reduce heat to medium.  Cook for 2 minutes.  While the pork chops are cooking, spread another tbsp of pesto on the upward-facing sides of the pork chop.
  5. Using a fork, flip the pork chops over and cook an additional 2 minutes.  Place a lid on the pan and remove from the heat.  Allow the pork chops to rest for 2 minutes.  Serve warm with your favorite side.