Open Arms of Minnesota

Weekly Recipe #311: Spaghetti Squash with Sunflower Seed Spinach Pesto

Photo credit: Personal Creations/Flickr

By Emily Casselman, Nutrition Student Volunteer

As a California transplant in Minnesota, I’ve had to develop coping mechanisms to survive the winter here. Once the weather starts turning, I’m tempted to hibernate and stuff myself full of comfort food to stay warm. But I know that 6 months of pasta would not be the best for my body, mind, or spirit, so I’ve come up with alternatives that are a bit lighter but still provide comfort.

Baked spaghetti squash is a healthier alternative to pasta that utilizes our seasonal bounty of squash, and allows you to enjoy all the goodies that you normally put on pasta – like pesto! This spaghetti squash with sunflower seed spinach pesto has lots of nutritional benefits, including the fiber, antioxidants and vitamin K from the spinach and healthy fats from the sunflower seeds.

Spaghetti Squash with Sunflower Seed Spinach Pesto
Ingredients for the squash:

  • 1 spaghetti squash (3-4 pounds)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt + pepper to taste

Ingredients for the pesto:

  • 2 cups basil leaves, packed
  • 1 cup spinach, packed
  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt + pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  2. Place the squash cut-side down on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake for 45-50 minutes.
  3. While the squash is in the over, add all pesto ingredients into a food processor and pulse until combined. Add warm water in small amounts if the pesto is too thick.
  4. Remove squash from the oven and allow to cool until it can be handled. Using a fork, scrape the insides of the squash into “noodles.”
  5. Stir pesto into spaghetti squash. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information:

Per serving: 280 calories, 22g of fat, 19g of carbohydrate, 5g of protein, 50mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol


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