Spaghetti Squash with Arugula Pesto (Vegan, Gluten-free)

I am endlessly inspired whenever I dine out at Cafe Gratitude. I love everything about their mission:

Our food is prepared with love. We invite you to step inside and enjoy being someone that chooses: loving your life, adoring yourself, accepting the world, being generous and grateful every day, and experiencing being provided for. Have fun and enjoy being nourished.

Can I get an Amen? Honestly, this is the manifesto that I live by, so it is no wonder that Cafe Gratitude is one of my favorite restaurants in San Diego. I also love that it's menu offers dishes that are 100% organic, plant-based (vegan), sustainable, and almost EVERYTHING is gluten-free (WIN). Not to mention, their desserts are OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD. But that's a topic for another day.

Recently, I was wow-ed by their "I am Liberated" meal: kelp noodles and basil hempseed pesto made with wild arugula and cashew ricotta, topped with heirloom cherry tomatoes and wild olives. YUM. It was a fresh summer twist on traditional pesto and noodles, which made a gluten-free, dairy-free gal like me go "le swoon".

After the meal, I was inspired to re-create and remix the dish at home, using ingredients I already had in the pantry and refrigerator. Better yet, it is vegan, gluten-free, and Whole30-approved/21 day Sugar Detox (21DSD)-approved.

Spaghetti Squash with Arugula Pesto

Pesto Prep time: 10 min
Squash Prep time: 45 min
Total time: < 1hr

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash, de-seeded, roasted
  • 1 pint organic cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 cup basil, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives (pitted)
  • Avocado, thinly sliced (as garnish)

Arugula Pesto

  • 2 cups arugula (rocket), washed and dried
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked and rinsed
    (optional: use raw walnuts instead)
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • salt + pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

ARUGULA PESTO

  1. Soak* the cashews in filtered water (just enough to cover the nuts) with 1 tsp sea salt for 6-7 hr (set this up in the morning before work!). Rinse with fresh filtered water.
  2. Place soaked cashews into a food processor, along with the arugula, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, EVOO, and let it rip until mixed. Feel free to add additional EVOO to make more smooth, if desired. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. For storage, place pesto in an air-tight container and store for up to 5 days in the refrigerator, or freeze.

    *Nuts contain phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that binds minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc in the digestive tract and inhibits their absorption by the body. Nuts also contain enzyme inhibitors that prevent their full digestion. Soaking nuts not only breaks down the phytic acid, but also neutralizes the enzyme inhibitors, thereby making the nuts easier to digest.

SPAGHETTI SQUASH + PRESENTATION

  1. Slice the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place into a roasting pan and lightly brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Roast at 400°F for 40 min, or until the squash is soft. Scoop spaghetti squash out of the skin and into a bowl. Set aside to cool.
  3. Once cool, mix spaghetti squash with pesto to desired coverage (I do this in a separate bowl).
  4. Slice the cherry tomatoes into halves, and roughly chop basil. Thinly slice avocado for garnish.
  5. Plate out salad greens (optional for getting extra greens - bonus!), followed by spaghetti squash with pesto. Sprinkle with tomatoes, chopped basil, olives, and place avocado slices on top. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Bon Appétit! This dish is also fabulous if made with kelp noodles rather than spaghetti squash, and are excellent as leftovers for lunch the next day. So the next time you are craving pesto and linguine, give this gluten-free vegan option a shot. You won't be disappointed!