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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Grill Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Warm Artichoke and Spinach Pesto

By now, most people know that spaghetti squash is fun option in place of pasta. If you haven't worked with one before, it's quite stunning really how the squash gives up its' flesh in these long, gorgeous yellow strands after roasting. The perfect base for a bevvy of toppings. Classically roasted in the oven, but easily roasted on the grill too for just a nice hint of smoke.

My topping today is a warm artichoke and spinach pesto. I'm using the 'pesto' word real loosely here; it's probably closer to to a sauce than a pesto but don't get caught up on the title. We have artichokes and spinach topping a squash- fairly simple and mostly delicious.

And all round healthy! Fall is squash season so now is the time to get happy with heartier meals.

Happy healthy tips: Artichokes are loaded with fiber and a host of nutrients, minerals and phytochemicals that work to protect against many health risks including cancer, hear disease, liver dysfunction, high cholesterol and diabetes. The only downside to an artichoke is the preparation; in this case it is easiest to purchase jarred hearts. Just read the ingredients to ensure you are getting pure hearts not soaking in a pool of chemicals.

Grill Roasted Spaghetti Squash 
Artichoke and Spinach Pesto

spaghetti squash, small to medium sized
2 tbls ghee (or high quality butter)
1/2 cup diced yellow onions
12 artichoke hearts, rough chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
dash or two of ground red pepper
2 packed cups spinach
3 tbls extra virgin olive oil
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbls fresh thyme
Sunflower seeds
salt and pepper to taste

Grill the squash. Cut in half, use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and guts. Drizzle the insides with one tablespoon of olive oil. Place the squash cut side down on a preheated grill, start with high heat. Leave the squash for about 10 minutes.

Remove from the grill and wrap in tin foil. Place back on the grill, cut side up. Reduce the heat to medium, roast for about 30 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from grill, cool slightly then use a fork to release the strands (just drag the tines across the squash.)

Heat the ghee, add in the onions. Cook just a couple of minutes to allow them to begin to release their juice. Add in the artichoke hearts, toss well and cook over medium low heat for about 5 minutes. Goal is to mostly heat them through. 

Add in the garlic, half of the lemon zest and a few dashes of red pepper, let that cook for a minute. You know your preference when it comes to spice, so adjust accordingly. 

Add in the spinach, a good pinch of salt and a few turns of fresh black pepper; toss well, cooking just another minutes so the spinach just begins to wilt. Remove from heat and pour over the spaghetti squash. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with sunflower seeds, thyme and the remaining lemon zest.


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