I've worked in the hospitality industry since 1996. In that time, I have planned thousands…
PESTO SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH SHRIMP
Ah pesto…. the smell of fresh basil…it takes me back to the time we lived in Italy. I remember the day my husband called me at work to tell me his orders were taking us to Naples. We didn’t have our family at that time so I thought what could be more romantic than living in Italy with the opportunity to travel. And most importantly, to be able to sample all of the amazing cuisine and wine! I would have to say one of my favorite dishes of all time is a nice caprese with its ripe juicy tomatoes, milky buffalo mozzarella and the sweet fragrance of basil. I no longer eat dairy due to health reasons, but have found ways to incorporate these flavor combinations into different dishes which has inspired my Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Shrimp.
Most people equate Italian food with pasta. Before living in Italy, I really did not eat much pasta. We moved and that changed drastically. I ate almost every combination of pasta imaginable and just felt awful but always blamed it on the cheese or the wine… too much wine! I gained about 20 lbs in only a year and a half and knew it was time to change the way I ate. When I moved back to the states I gave up pasta and really didn’t miss it. What I missed were the sauces- pestos, ragu, bolognese, and other non-dairy creamy sauces. Keep in mind this was back in 2010 and spiralized noodles and squashes weren’t the rave they are now. But of course spaghetti squash always stuck out as an option and I began incorporating it into dishes.
The first time I used spaghetti squash, I made a basic meat sauce which my husband loved. Being a meat & potatoes kind of guy, I was pretty surprised he liked the substitution. I personally love the taste and texture of this squash and I think it holds up to most sauces I’ve used. Pesto is one of my favorites! A hotel that I worked at made an amazing pesto cream sauce and I wanted to try to replicate it without the dairy and without using coconut milk. I chose the avocado because it gives it such a creamy texture. Normally I use walnuts in my pesto sauce- sometimes macadamia nuts if I’m feeling a little crazy but I actually found pine nuts at a reasonable price so used these instead. This particular avocado pesto recipe was inspired by a recipe from Eat Yourself Skinny.
I have to say I think this might be one of my favorite sauces. The tender shrimp with just a touch of heat balances nicely with the cool creaminess of the avocado pesto. A slight crunch of asparagus tips, tender bite of mushroom and tangy sweet tomatoes rounds out the dish nicely. The spaghetti squash brings it all together in what I think is a perfect summer Mediterranean dish to serve al fresco with some friends and a bottle (or two) of wine.
Still craving shrimp? Try my Shrimp Egg Roll Bowl!
- SPAGHETTI SQUASH
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- AVOCADO PESTO
- 2 small ripe avocados
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup pine nuts or walnuts
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- PESTO SHRIMP & VEGETABLES
- 2 tablespoon ghee- divided
- 1 lb 16-20ct large shrimp, peeled & deveined
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 3 portabella mushroom caps, chopped
- 1 cup asparagus, chopped
- ¾ cup avocado pesto (recipe below)
- ½ cup grape tomatoes, chopped
- ½ cup homemade bone broth or chicken stock
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half and remove pulp and seeds. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes.
- While squash is baking, prepare pesto by adding all ingredients for avocado pesto (except olive oil) in a food processor and pulse under blended. With food processor running, add olive oil very slowly until thoroughly combined and creamy.
- After squash is done baking, remove from oven. Use a fork to scrape out the inside flesh and set aside (you may need to let the squash cool a bit to handle).
- In a large saute pan, melt 1 tablespoon of ghee of medium high heat. Add shrimp and season with salt and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1-2 minutes each side and remove from pan. Set aside.
- Add another tablespoon of ghee to same pan. Add mushrooms and cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add asparagus tips and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add pesto and bone broth to the pan, stirring until thoroughly blended. Add spaghetti squash and toss until well combined.
- Add shrimp & tomatoes and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley and additional red pepper flakes if desired. Serve hot & enjoy!
2. Use very tips and top part of asparagus stalks.
3. Avocado pesto recipe will make 1-3/4 cups. Use more pesto in this recipe if you prefer saucier dishes.