Dark Days: Spaghetti Squash with Brazil Nut-Basil Pesto, Oven Roasted Tomatoes & Spinach
For this rather drab and dreary (weather-wise) Dark Days post, I’ve decided to throw us a little summertime–compliments of my favorite place up the mountain & a bit of preserving. A skip, hop, and a jump away (well, up) the mountain from Roanoke is Floyd, Virginia–the area that another Dark Days poster, Rebecca, hails from.
While Floyd itself is a great little town, my favorite part of it the hidden gem of Greens Garage. Greens Garage is owned/led by Tenley Weaver of Good Food, Good People. Tenley herself is a master farmer who grows some delicious food, but she’s also responsible for helping bring local food to the New River Valley through GFGP’s cooperative effort. GFGP rounds up the available fresh produce, eggs, cheese, and meat from farmers in Floyd and drives them down to the Grandin farmer’s market around the corner from us. Instead of each farmer having to put forth the hours and gas to drive up and down the mountain, Tenley does it all–in a highly organized fashion. She’s definitely one of the pillars of Roanoke local food and not just local food in Floyd.
Greens Garage is a part of the GFGP effort–it’s a farm store open to folks on the honor system. Inside you’ll find a bevy of local and organic foods, as well as crafts and books and such, and the idea behind is that you weigh off your food, mark it on the slip, and pay by your honor. It’s a magical place and it’s my favorite stop whenever I’m in the neighborhood. Just think–hydroponic tomatoes in the dead of winter! Fresh spinach! Potatoes! Apples! Etc.! It’s all there–and at highly affordable prices (GFGP’s food obviously costs more in Roanoke since gas & time go into the cost).
Thus, a bit of summer in the middle of winter–spaghetti squash saved from the autumn farmers market, pesto made up of basil from my garden and then frozen into cubes, oven roasted hydroponic cherry tomatoes from Yoder’s Hydroponics up near Floyd, and fresh spinach from either Tenley’s farm or another close by. This kind of produce is magical in the time of squash and sweet potatoes and kale.
The pesto is a little bit different than my usual with Brazil nut oil and Brazil nuts in addition to the usual basil. The Brazil nut oil was a birthday gift from my sister-in-law and I’d been holding onto it until I could think of a way to really emphasize such an unusual (to me) oil. Combined with actual Brazil nuts and then the basil, this pesto had a nice smooth nutty taste with a slight bitterness in the back. Savory in all the right ways. To save the pesto I froze it in ice cube trays overnight and then popped the pesto cubes out and stored them in freezer bags–voila, personal pesto!
To create the meal, I simply roasted the tomatoes, tossed a cooked spaghetti squash with the pesto, and sauteed some spinach with garlic. Simple, satisfying, and a breath of fresh air to all the heavy, wintery meals we’ve been having lately (see, no cabbage! hooray!)
Spaghetti Squash with Brazil Nut Pesto, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, & Spinach
To Make the Brazil Nut Basil Pesto:
2 c fresh basil
1/2 c Brazil nuts
2/3 c Brazil nut oil
2 cloves garlic
salt to taste
In a food processor, combine all ingredients and process until smooth. Add more nuts, basil, and oil as needed to achieve a nice, smooth consistency. Add salt in small pinches to taste.
To Make the Spaghetti Squash, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, & Spinach
1 2 lb spaghetti squash
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 large bunch of spinach
1/4 c Brazil nut pesto
2 cloves garlic, minced
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and arrange, sliced side up, on a nonstick baking tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly flatter and roasted (beginning to blacken around some of the edges). Remove from oven and let cool.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti squash. (I cheated and cooked it in the microwave. Obviously you could cook it in the oven at the same time, but I couldn’t due to timing.) To cook in the oven, spear the flesh several times with a fork. Place on a baking tray and bake 40-45 minutes until soft-ish to the touch (a fork should be able to pierce it easily). To cook in the microwave, spear several times with a fork, place in microwave and cook 7 minutes. Turn over and cook another 7 minutes. Cook longer if needed for it to be soft.
Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. With a spoon, scoop out the “spaghetti” and place in a bowl. Mix with the pesto.
In a pan over medium heat, warm a teaspoon or two of olive oil. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, one minute. Add the spinach and saute until soft, 3-4 minutes.
Serve the spaghetti squash with the oven roasted tomatoes and spinach.