I always felt like pesto got the short straw in terms of Italian sauces - it's delicious and nutty and so versatile! It can really pump up the flavors of something nice and simple like chicken and spaghetti squash to make it really special
Yields: 4 servings
1 large spaghetti squash
Salt & pepper
1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1 lemon, zested and half juiced
1 lb of boneless skinless chicken breast
2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning
1 cup of pesto sauce (click here for my recipe) or buy pre-made
1 pint of grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
1/4 cup of pine nuts
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Poke the spaghetti squash with a fork a few times all around the perimeter and then place it in the microwave for 5 minutes. Remove from the microwave with oven mitts and place it on a cutting board. Once the squash is cool enough to touch, cut off both ends and then slice in half, removing the seeds with a spoon. Season the inside generously with salt and pepper and drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil in both "boats". Lay the squash cut-side down on a parchment-lined sheet pan and roast until tender, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, steam the broccoli - you can use a steamer appliance, a pot, the microwave, or whatever works for you! Once that's done, stir in the lemon zest and juice, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Put the chicken breasts onto a cutting board. Cover with cling wrap and pound with a meat tenderizer until they are 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick. Then remove the cling wrap and cut into tenders. Season both sides with Italian seasoning.
Heat a large skillet with 2 tbsp of olive oil and cook the chicken until browned on both sides and 165 degrees F inside. Remove once done and allow to sit in a small shallow bowl or plate.
Remove the spaghetti squash from the oven and allow it to cool until it is safe to touch. Scrape out the "spaghetti strands" with a fork and put them into a large bowl. Mix with the pesto sauce and broccoli. Top with chicken, fresh grape tomatoes, and toasted pine nuts*
*How to toast pine nuts: Place the nuts in a dry skillet (no oil) over medium heat. Heat, shaking the pan often until fragrant and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Don't walk away because the nuts can easily burn! Remove immediately from the heat and transfer to a plate to stop the cooking.