Pesto Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole
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✅Pesto Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole
Total Carbs/serving: 9.5g
Total net carbs/serving: 8g
Nutrition: 607 Calories/32.7g Protein/52.4g Fat/9.5g Carbs/8g Fiber
➡1 Spaghetti squash, ~2 lbs.
1.5 lbs. Chicken thighs, boneless, sliced in to thin strips or 1” cubes
2 tbsp. Duck fat or fat of choice, divided
8 oz. Fresh mozzarella, sliced
3/4 C Basil pesto (see recipe below)
1 C Cherry tomatoes, halved
Sea salt, 1 tbsp. + more for taste
Cracked pepper, to taste
Serving Size: 1 tbsp.
Total Carbs/Serving: 1g
Total Net Carbs/Serving: 0.7g
Nutrition: 111.3 Calories/1.8g Protein/11.5g Fat/1g Carb/0.3g Fiber
3 C Basil leaves, packed
¼ C Pine nuts
3 Garlic cloves
2/3 C Grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 C Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt & cracked pepper, to taste
🔔Note: There are a lot of steps to this recipe, but you can save yourself some time by preparing the pesto or roasting the squash a day ahead (I always have pesto in my freezer!). Plus this dish is very versatile. You can turn it into a vegetarian side dish by not including the chicken. Or can completely skip the final step of baking this dish in casserole form if you like and simply top the squash with pesto and serve the chicken (skin on!) on the side.
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Lightly oil a rimmed roasting tray or cover with parchment paper to prevent sticking; set aside.
2. Cut the squash in half (See video for steps)
3. Next use a large spoon and scoop out the seeds and the stringy flesh from the squash. Seeds can be saved and roasted (like pumpkin seeds!).
4. Sprinkle 1 tbsp. of sea salt on the flesh to sweat the squash to draw out excess water. After 15-20 minutes, use a paper towel and wipe away excess water and salt.
5. Season the squash with extra virgin olive oil and cracked pepper. Place cut side down on tray and roast for 35-45 minutes. Smaller squash cook faster so check after 30 minutes. If you can easily pierce the shell and flesh all the way through with a fork or paring knife. If “noodles” are too crunchy to you, just pop the squash back in the oven for about 15-20 minutes.
6. While squash is roasting, make the pesto: Combine all ingredients, except for the olive oil in a food processor or blender and pulse about 5-6 times. Scrape down sides. Next turn your processor on to continue chopping the ingredients as you slowly add in the olive oil. Check the consistency of the pesto (you don’t want it too soupy, but also not too thick it can’t spread easily. Also taste if more salt or pepper are desired. Place pesto in an airtight container and refrigerate until needed.
7. Use 1 tbsp. of duck fat and oil an 8 x 8 casserole dish; set aside.
8. When squash is done, increase oven temperature to 425. Set squash aside and let cool slightly until you can handle with your hands.
9. Heat the remaining duck fat a large frying pan over medium heat. When oil is hot, add in chicken and cook through, about 2-4 minutes per side. Once you put the chicken in; do not disturb while it cooks, as you want nice browning on the chicken; Season chicken with salt and pepper, as desired.
10. Use a fork and gently pull the flesh of the squash away from the peel; work to separate the flesh into “spaghetti” strands. Rake your fork in the same directions as the strands for longer “noodles”.
11. Place 2 ½ C of the “spaghetti” in a large mixing bowl. Add in ½ cup of pesto and mix well. Add in the chicken and ¼ C of pesto and mix. Pour the mixture into the casserole dish and top with slices of fresh mozzarella. Bake until mozzarella has melted, about 15-20 minutes. Serve immediately with cherry tomatoes.