Guest Recipe: Spaghetti Squash with Parsley Lemon Pesto

My pal, Gilah Rosner, and I love to share recipes, kitchen wisdom, and nutritional science tidbits. Here we offer you Gilah's recipe for Spaghetti Squash with Parsley Lemon Pesto.

Don’t scoff at humble parsley—it’s packed with intense peppery flavor and phytonutrients with many health benefits. It’s rich in fiber, chlorophyll, and micronutrients like vitamin C and vitamin A, and it’s simply loaded with vitamin K, which improves calcium absorption—important for healthy bones and a healthy heart. Parsley packs a punch with its vitamin K content, more than any other green herb or vegetable.

Parsley, like many vegetables and fruits rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, can help fight inflammation—the underlying cause of most chronic and degenerative diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and autoimmunity. Parsley contains a plant pigment called myricetin, thought to have preventative effects against skin cancer and diabetes in particular.

Traditional herbalism teaches that parsley is also a wonderful digestive, one of the classes of aromatic herbs with square stems and leafy greens that help stimulate digestion and eliminate sluggishness. After a meal, munching a few springs of parsley is wonderful for good digestion and fresh breath.

Add a generous handful of parsley to eggs, pasta, salads or salad dressings, even your morning smoothie. The Parsley Lemon Pesto in this recipe can be used as a sauce, dip, spread, or dollop that delivers flavor and nutrition. Stir it into butternut squash, tomato, or even chicken soup. It’s fantastic on fish and chicken, stirred into plain quinoa or wild rice, spread on a sandwich, or used to dress up a simple cooked vegetable. Or enjoy it in this fast, easy, and delicious dish.

1 medium spaghetti squash
Parsley Lemon Pesto (recipe below)
Chopped sundried tomatoes (optional)
Grated parmesan cheese and extra chopped parsley to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the squash in half, and scoop out the wet, stringy interior and seeds with a soup spoon. (You can discard, or save the seeds to toast later.)

Smear a little olive oil on the cut sides of the squash halves, turn upside down on a baking pan, and bake until tender when pierced with a knife, about an hour. When cool, use a fork to scrape the strands of squash out of the rind.

Mix squash with Parsley Lemon Pesto to coat the strands, and optional sundried tomatoes. Top with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. Isn’t that gorgeous?

Now pour yourself a glass of wine or other festive beverage of choice, light a candle, and enjoy your meal on a beautiful plate, with a lovely placemat or tablecloth, and some soothing background music. Your body, heart, mind, and spirit will thank you.

Parsley Lemon Pesto

Heaping ½ cup toasted walnuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, or almonds
2 cups packed fresh flat-leaf parsley (much more flavorful than the curly kind)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 or 3 medium cloves garlic (a powerful anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory food, also great for cardiovascular health)
Grated zest of 1 lemon (yellow part only)
1–2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon colored sea salt (such as Celtic or pink Himalayan)
A few grinds of freshly ground pepper
Parmesan or Romano cheese (optional, to taste)

Toast nuts or seeds in a pan over low heat, or in the microwave. If microwaving, start with 45 seconds and check if they're done. Put toasted nuts or seeds and the remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender, and mix until it is a uniform consistency. Now taste it. Do you love it as is, or can you perfect it a bit? This is where the art of cooking comes in, and you are the artist. Would you like to add some grated Parmesan or Romano cheese? Go for it; you’ll probably need to add more oil to keep the proper consistency. Does it need more garlic or more lemon? Remember, a recipe is only a suggestion. Use what you have on hand, and play with your food so that it tastes absolutely scrumptious to you.

This recipe was originally published on Joan's blog.

Joan Borysenko, PhD, is a Harvard Medical School-trained biologist, a licensed psychologist, a New York Times best-selling author, and a pioneer in mind-body medicine.

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