My mothers husband is Italian. And as most Italians he loves Italian food. He can talk forever about how to make the perfect melanzane parmegiana. And how you always should rub the garlic against the bread when making bruschetta. Or debate why the pizzas are better in Napoli than in Rome. And while he talks, he is of course gesticulating frenetically with his hands. He is always very passionate when it comes to things like that. But whenever he watches us try modern alternatives of traditional pasta recipes he just puts his palms together and says “Spaghetti, spaghetti, that is not spaghetti, mama mia che schifo”.
If you are like my mothers husband you should probably stop reading here, because this is another healthier and gluten free version of spaghetti – The Spaghetti Squash (Squaghetti). A yellow and orange striped squash with a special talent. When cooked you can run a fork through it and it’ll separate into spaghetti like strands in no time and without any expensive kitchen appliance. The only down side is that it can be a little hard to come by. Some supermarkets sell it, otherwise check with your local farmers market or look at organic grocery stores.
You can serve the spaghetti squash with any of your favorite pasta sauces. Or try this rustic parsley pesto, beluga lentils & roasted shiitake topping. Here we have kept the pesto very chunky, by simply grinding it in a mortar. But you could also make it creamier if using a food processor.
Spaghetti Squash with Beluga Lentils, Parsley Pesto & Shiitake
1 large spaghetti squash
1 tbsp coconut oil or ghee
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (120 ml) beluga lentils, rinsed
1 cup (240 ml )water
a pinch of salt
1 cup (around 100 g) fresh shiitake mushrooms
2 handfuls flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
3 tbsp pine nuts or nuts of choice, toasted
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Divide the spaghetti squash lengthwise with a large sharp knife. Rub the cut sides with coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. Place both halves on a baking tray, cut side down. Bake in the oven for 40-60 minutes (depending on the size of the squash). The halves are ready when the skin is bubbly and slightly browned. Meanwhile prepare lentils, pesto and shiitake. Place water and lentils in saucepan, cover and bring to a boil, lower the heat and let gently simmer for 30 minutes or until tender and can be mashed easily between two fingers. Drain any excess water and set aside. Place all pesto ingredients in a mortar and grind until creamy, but still chunky, set aside. Remove the squash from the oven, turn it so you’ll have the cut side up and let cool for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile heat the shiitake mushroom in a frying pan with a little coconut oil until soft and browned, set aside. Use a fork to scrape out the spaghetti strands. Place on serving plates, top with beluga lentils, pesto and shiitake.