When I think of summer, I think of fresh garden vegetables and herbs. Growing up in Maine, we always had fresh basil growing which meant homemade pesto. Depending on the summer, we had tomatoes, peppers, green peppers, green beans, zucchini or maybe a combination of those. Fresh basil and tomatoes immediately makes me think of a caprese salad. Not sure about you, but raw tomatoes are very hit or miss for me. Cooked tomatoes I love. Raw? Ehhh. Depends on the day. Something about spaghetti squash as a pasta salad, fresh mozzarella, fresh spinach, cherry tomatoes all tossed with homemade pesto and chicken sounded absolutely irresistible. Well, it is. I’ve had it for lunch or dinner four days in a row. Don’t believe me? Try the Caprese Spaghetti Squash with Pesto Grilled Chicken for yourself.
Ingredients (serves 4).
For the Pesto (makes 1 c for 1 T servings):
- 2 c fresh basil leaves, packed
- 3 T light olive oil
- 1/3 c grated parmesan
- 1 t minced garlic
- 1/3 c walnuts, heaping (or pine nuts but they’re $$$)
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- Sea salt to taste
- Cayenne pepper (optional for a kick)
For the Spaghetti Squash:
- 1 spaghetti squash, washed and cooked (directions here)
- 3 c baby spinach, loosely packed
- 15 cherry tomatoes, washed
- 4 T pesto
- 2 large grilled chicken breasts
- 8-10 fresh mini mozzarella balls
- Red pepper to taste
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Fresh basil to garnish
For the Pesto:
- Combine all ingredients BUT OIL for the pesto in a food processor and blend until smooth.
- While blending, slowly pour olive oil.
- Stop and scrape down the sides. Set aside.
For the Dish:
- Cook the spaghetti in the microwave, following easy directions found here.
- Chop up the cherry tomatoes and mozzarella and place in a large bowl. Chiffonade or thinly slice baby spinach (see picture below). Add to the bowl.
- Once spaghetti squash is done, combine with tomatoes, mozzarella, spinach and 3 T pesto. Toss well. Add sea salt, pepper and red pepper. The spinach should perfectly wilt from the hot spaghetti squash. Plate.
- Top “spaghetti” mixture with grilled chicken and pesto.
The pesto is a family recipe. Store in the fridge for about 2-3 weeks or in the freezer for up to 3 months.