Spaghetti Squash with Sunflower Seed Pesto

 

vegan recipe, sunflower seed pesto, kale sunflower seed pesto, spaghetti squash, plant based meal, nut free pesto, nut-free, nightshade free, gluten free , soma fitness, soma nutrition
Last week was Snowmageddon 2017 with Winter storm Stella making its way to New York City, where I currently reside. We were told to expect between 2 to 4 feet of snow in a 24 hour period, in a blizzard that would be noted in NYC history. A state of emergency was declared, flights were grounded, and many workers were told to stay home.

So on Monday evening around 10:30 pm, in preparing to hunker down for a few days, Jake and I decided to hit our neighborhood Whole Foods. When we walked in, it was like a scene from Supermarket Sweep (i’m a true child of the 90s)! The store would be closing in 30 minutes, but crazed shoppers were running to and fro grabbing what was left of the produce, prepared foods, frozen goods, and canned items. I was shocked to find only 5 single broccoli crowns, 6 mangled carrots, 3 wilted onions, 2 spaghetti squash, 2 yellow bell peppers, 2 heads of red cabbage, and a handful of triple washed spring mix cartons.  I took nearly all, save the spring mix.

Let me digress for a minute. I absolutely hate spring mix. I find that blend to consistently have slimy baby leaves that were likely too small to sell with their adult counterparts.  When I order a salad from a restaurant that serves spring mix, I’m literally sitting for 20 minutes inspecting and picking rotten leaves from my salad.  It drives Jake nuts, but me so even more! I can’t stand it, and to make a point I place all the stinky little leaves on a napkin and disingenuously smile at the server when they ask how I’m enjoying my salad.

So anyway, I’m back at Whole Foods walking though the canned food aisle and I see a sad and limp bunch of kale; I grab it nervously like a $20 bill I find in a gutter, keeping it hidden from any other spring mix hater!  I then head straight to the vegan cold food section and feel a sense of relief rush over me.  There sat several packages of organic tempeh, tofu, miso paste, kimchi, sauerkraut, and all the other undesirable items that make my little plant based heart smile.  I knew in that moment that I’d be ok, America doesn’t like fermented or vegan yet and I’d eat like a queen another day!

Most of the lines to the cash registers were at least 50 people long. This Whole Foods has a pretty organized way of zooming people through the check out, but the lines were daunting and the store was short on staff as it was officially closed for the evening.  Back near the bulk food section, hidden in the back of the store, the juice bar had decided to open its register to help with those inundated at the front. This line was about 20 people long, and much more doable.  Jake was ready to throw in the towel but we persevered.  While we waited near the nuts, seeds, and grains, I flipped through old photos and inspiration hit me.

 

A few years ago, we attended a wedding in Vancouver, BC, Canada. I had been some years before, staying with the same couple I’d be celebrating, when I worked for their company SocialShopper.com. Familiar with the lively Gastown area Jake and I wanted to see their new restaurant scene, before the weekend’s festivities began.  My favorite happened to be Chill Winston that was serving up some mean spaghetti squash with what I remember to be a sunflower seed pesto.  I’ve only ever made pesto with pine nuts and walnuts, and that’s what I planned to do last week, but alas Whole Foods was out of both options, and sunflower seeds were the last remaining option that night. So here we have it folks.  

basil, herbs, detox, seasoning, cutting basil

food hacks, grain-free, gluten-free, noodles, spaghetti noodles, kitchen hack, baked squash
Spaghetti Squash with Sunflower Seed Pesto
(serves 4 as main dish, or up to 8 as side dish)

Ingredients:
1 whole spaghetti squash, cutting crosswise into 1″ round slices
8 tsp Himalayan crystal salt

Sunflower Seed Pesto
1 cup fresh basil, washed and chopped
2 cups organic kale, washed, stem removed, and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp juice from fresh squeezed lime
1-2 tbsp water

Directions:
Preheat over to 400 degrees F.  Cut ends off squash. Cut squash crosswise in 1″ rings. Scoop out seeds and discard. Place squash on baking sheet covered with aluminum or parchment paper and sprinkle each ring with salt on both sides. Let sit 15 minutes. Wipe away salt and bake for 30- 40 minutes (I like my squash to have a few burnt pieces for added taste).  Let cool while making the pesto. 

Place first 4 ingredients into blender or food processor, then pulse until well combined. Add oil and lime juice, and blend on low, scraping down the sides as necessary. If pesto is very chunky, add water slowly teaspoon by teaspoon until it has desired consistency. Season with salt, to taste and serve with spaghetti squash.

For any remaining pesto, save in an airtight container with a teaspoon or more of olive oil drizzled on top to preserve.

*The cut of the squash was inspired by squash guru, Beth, over at http://eatwithinyourmeans.com/how-to-cook-spaghetti-squash/