Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Crispy Chickpeas

As we look to the New Year, it’s very easy to get caught up in resolutions to “get fit” or “lose x pounds.” While I am sure these are made with the best of intentions, it’s sad to see how many people fall off the proverbial wagon come February and March.

Eating healthy does not need to be a chore. It does not need to involve expensive ingredients and recipes that take hours to prepare. I write this blog to encourage these exact viewpoints!

Plant-based eating is an approach that is kind to the planet and nourishing to our bodies. I think an “eat more plants” philosophy is a spectacular resolution because it does not involve any kind of extreme restriction.  Vegetables can easily be made to taste delicious AND make us feel great; talk about a win-win!

OK, enough rambling. Let’s get into what I’ve cooked up for today😋

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I realize that the flavors I am presenting here are typically associated with the summer months. However,  I know many of you have been requesting, light and fresh tasting meals for January (a nice break from the heavy holiday food scene). Pesto is a very versatile topping and can brighten up a multitude of dishes. If you do not feel like making your own, store bought will work just fine (just double check the brand to insure it’s vegan, if necessary.

We should take a moment to chat about spaghetti squash. Although many low-carb fans enjoy this mentality, it really should not be thought of as a true substitute for pasta. It is high in Vitamin C, Vitamin B-6, and potassium. These nutrients help your body metabolize carbohydrates, build muscle, and protect against free radicals. Let’s just enjoy this stringy veggie in its own right! Plants for the win.

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Chickpeas have always held a special place in my heart, and the method provided below is one of my favorite preparations. These crispy beans take 10 minutes to whip up and are delicious toppings on salads, pastas, and even soups. Lettuce not forget the 12 grams of protein per cup!

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I wish you all a Happy New Year and hope you do not stress too much over any resolution plans. If you give this recipe a try, you’ll see how easy (and delicious) healthy eating can be.

This recipe serves 3 – 4 people, depending on the size of your squash and your hunger levels. It was inspired by Minimalist Baker. As always, please tag @garlichead on Instagram; I so love seeing your creations!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash

For pesto:

  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 4 TBS nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups (packed) fresh basil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 TBS sun-dried tomatoes (optional)

For crispy chickpeas:

  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and dried slightly with a towel
  • 3 TBS nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice squash down the middle lengthwise and scoop out seeds using a spoon. Rub a little olive oil on each interior side and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place each half face down on a  baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, until tender.
  2. While squash is baking, add all pesto ingredients to a food processor and blend thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more yeast for “cheesiness” and lemon juice for bright acidity. Set aside.
  3. Heat a cast iron skillet to low and add 1 TBS olive oil. Once hot add chickpeas, yeast, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and let crisp. It should take about 10 minutes. Mix every now and then to insure they don’t stick to the pan. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. When squash is done, carefully use a fork to scrape out strings inside of squash.
  5. To serve, top squash with chickpeas, pesto, and optional sun dried tomatoes. Vegan parmesan would also be delish!

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