This delicious low carb side dish is easy to make and always a hit! Pesto Spaghetti Squash starts with a roasted squash, and needs just a couple of other ingredients – pesto, tomatoes, and optional walnuts. A great way to add variety to your keto diet!
A Delicious Low Carb Vegetable Dish
If you’ve learned how to cook a spaghetti squash, the variations for low carb side dishes and meal ideas are endless!
While most winter squashes are too high in carbs to be included regularly on a keto diet, spaghetti squash comes in at only 8 Net Carbs per 1 cup serving. It’s a great way to mix up your vegetable routine, especially in winter months when having a hot side dish is super satisfying.
Pesto spaghetti is a super simple meal that’s also super satisfying. This version replaces high-carb, low-nutrient pasta with a gluten free alternative, a squash that’s equally as fun to eat. Purchase a pesto with high quality ingredients (look for one made with pure olive oil rather than a mix of seed oils, which are inflammatory), or make your own at home. We love this Pecan Arugula Pesto.
The tomatoes are optional. They add a delicious pop of sweetness to the dish. Add them based on your carb needs, but remember that adding a variety of vegetables to your diet, in small amounts, helps fulfill nutrient requirements, which can be an issue on any diet that restricts foods.
How to Make Pesto Spaghetti Squash
This meal couldn’t be easier! Follow this tutorial on how to bake spaghetti squash if you’ve never cooked on before. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to cook a whole squash, so plan ahead! You can also cut down on the time needed for this recipe if you cut the squash in half moons and spread them out across a baking sheet. They only take about 25 minutes to bake when cut into smaller pieces.
Step 1: Prepare your squash by cutting it in half, and scooping out the seeds and pith.
Step 2: Season your squash with avocado oil, salt and pepper. Place the squash flesh side down on a baking tray, and bake it at 400º F for 45 minutes – 1 hour, depending on how large the squash is. You’ll know it’s ready when the strands easily pull from the skin. If the strands easily break when you pull them, the squash is over baked. It will be delicious, but will lose that “al dente” crunch that a properly cooked squash has.
Step 3: Add cherry tomatoes to a baking dish, and season with avocado oil, salt and pepper.
Step 4: Bake the tomatoes for about 10-12 minutes, or until the have started to burst. This method brings out the sweetness of the tomatoes.
Step 5: Pull the strands from the skin of the squash. They should easily pull out and maintain the shape of a very thin pasta. If your strands easily break or are mushy, you overcooked the squash.
Step 6: Add the pesto, and toss to coat. Because spaghetti squashes vary a lot in size, you will need to adjust the amount of pesto used to taste. I like to use about 1 tablespoon of pesto per cup of squash, but I usually don’t measure. Mix some in, and then taste it! Add more if you want to boost the pesto flavor.
Step 7: Top the pesto squash with burst cherry tomatoes, and optionally, garnish with parmesan cheese and chopped walnuts, pecans, pistachios, or pine nuts. Adding some cheese and nuts or seeds is a great way to add more healthy fats to this dish.
Make this Side Dish a Full Meal
It’s easy to turn pesto spaghetti squash into a full meal!
- Making Chicken Pesto Spaghetti Squash by topping a serving of this dish with a grilled chicken thigh or even even serving it with a couple Air Fryer Chicken Legs. A great quick meal idea is to pick up a roasted chicken and just add some of that.
- Use Pesto Spaghetti Squash as a base for a Keto Breakfast Salad. Mix a serving of this dish with some arugula or kale, and top with eggs, bacon, and avocado. A great way to have a hot and healthy breakfast in the winter!
- Baked salmon is a great pairing with spaghetti squash! Other seafood, like shrimp, scallops, or cod also are great options to serve with pesto.
Pesto Spaghetti Squash
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 2 tablespoon avocado oil divided
- sea salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup pesto more or less, depending on size of squash
- walnuts chopped, to garnish, optional
- parmesan cheese to garnish, optional
- Preheat oven to 400º F. Line a baking tray with a silicone baking mat, if desired, and set aside.
- Cut spaghetti squash in half, and scoop seeds and pith out and discard.
- Season the squash with avocado oil, salt and pepper. Place the squash flesh-side down on the baking tray. Bake squash for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the squash. The squash is ready when the strands easily pull away from the skin, but do not yet break, which means the squash is overcooked.
- Add tomatoes to a baking dish, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of avocado oil, salt and pepper. Add to the oven the last 10 minutes or so while the squash is still baking. The tomatoes are done when they've begun to burst.
- Pull the strands of the squash away from the skin. Toss the strands of squash with the pesto to evenly coat. Add more or less, to taste, depending on size of the squash.
- Top the squash with burst tomatoes, and optionally with parmesan cheese and walnuts.