Saturday, November 14, 2009

Whole Wheat Spaghetti and Spaghetti Squash with Arugula and Lemon Pesto

Being part Italian when I need a comfort dish I turn to pasta. As far as I am concerned pasta should be a food group. I love pasta like some people love chocolate. I could eat it every night and be perfectly content. Given that pasta is a refined carbohydrate, even when it is whole grain, I know we shouldn’t eat it often. But sometimes it is the only thing I want. Tonight I was in one of those moods.

I added spaghetti squash to reduce the pasta portion size. I made a quick arugula pesto because I love the bitter bite of arugula. Additionally arugula is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family so it is a very healthy part of any diet. The less you cook cruciferous vegetables the more nutritious they are. By using it as pesto it was only heated by the warmth of the pasta. I added lemon juice and zest for flavor and nutrition. Lemon zest contains d-limonene, which has been linked to protection from skin cancer. Walnuts add a wonderful creaminess to the pesto. They mellow the flavor of the arugula just a bit. Additionally the walnuts add omega 3 fatty acids that are anti-inflammatory and are helpful for preventing most typical western diseases.

Don’t let the small number of ingredients fool you. This pasta has a big bold flavor. Particularly if you use the larger more mature arugula. As arugula ages the flavor gets more assertive and I love it, but my hubby thinks it is bitter. Walnuts tame the bitterness enough that he likes it, but I can still enjoy it. Here is what I did.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti and Spaghetti Squash with Arugula and Lemon Pesto
Serves 6


1 pound of whole-wheat spaghetti
6 cups spaghetti squash, when cooked and shredded
8 cups of arugula (larger arugula has a more bitter bite and is better in this dish)
1 lemon, zested and juice
½ cup walnuts
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 pinch salt, to taste
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper to taste


Cook the spaghetti and squash until the pasta is al dente and the squash yields to the pressure of a paring knife. The spaghetti squash is easiest to cook in the microwave, but you can also bake it in a 350 degree oven cut side down until soft (about an hour).

Combine the arugula, lemon zest, lemon juice, walnuts, oil, and garlic in your food processor and puree. If the pesto is too thick add a little water (a tablespoon at a time).

Toss the pesto with the pasta and spaghetti squash.

If desired you can leave take some of the arugula tops and cut them into bite sized pieces and toss them in the pasta for a textural variation. You could also hold a few of the walnuts back and add them to the top of the dish for garnish if you like.

Serve hot.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 432.37
Calories From Fat (21%) - 91.24

Total Fat - 10.71g
Saturated Fat - 0.92g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 401.45mg
Potassium - 340.59mg
Total Carbohydrates - 75.66g
Fiber - 12.49g
Sugar - 8.03g
Protein - 13.9g


When I asked my husband what he thought of dinner he described it as “creamy and bitter” and “flavorful”. I would say this is a fairly good description. The pesto is rich and creamy from the walnuts and oil and a little bitter from the arugula. This is one of my favorite pasta dishes. My father calls it “green pasta”. Both my father and mother liked the pasta tonight. I was a little surprised when they had seconds. Sometimes the parents still surprise me.

The hubby and I are going to watch a movie tonight as soon as I post this entry. I think I am going to make a new popcorn variation tonight. If I like the new flavor I will post it late tonight or tomorrow morning after the farm market. I hope you all have a great evening.


  1. I'm the same with pasta, I could eat it every day and it is my 1st choice in comfort food too.

    It's a good idea to mix the spaghetti squash with the pasta, as it fills the plate up, but with more veg and less pasta than if without.

    Looks like a really delicious meal.

  2. Rose,

    Even my parents will eat spaghetti squash and not complain. But, there needs to be a substantial amount of "real pasta" as they call it. I am just happy they have accepted whole-wheat pasta. That was a monumental undertaking in itself.

    talk to you later,

  3. This does sound good. I'll print this recipe out and add it to my stack;-)

  4. Shenandoah,

    Thanks! I love arugula, and the hubby tolerates it. If you are a fan of arugula I think you will like this. It is also nice that it is a one dish meal, if you don't feel like making another else.

    Glad you enjoyed the bean and polenta dish yesterday.


  5. That looks and sounds really good! I love the idea of adding spaghetti squash to reduce the pasta portion size because I'm trying to stay away from carb. I'll give this recipe a try, I've never cooked with spaghetti squash before.

  6. Oraphan,

    Spaghetti squash is easy to cook, but a little hard to cut open. Slice it in half top to bottom. Scoop out the seedy center. Rub the squash interior lightly with oil (so the seasonings have something to cling to) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then place the squash cut side down on a half sheet pan. Add a little water to the pan, so the squash will steam and bake. Cook them in a 350 oven for about an hour. They are done when you can easily insert the end of paring knife. Then you scrape the interior of the squash, once they have cooled a little, to create the squash threads. If you have any other questions about spaghetti squash let me know.


  7. What a great idea to combine spaghetti squash with the pasta! I've only used it in place of pasta and the hubby wasn't impressed, but I bet he'd like it if I combined the two- Thanks!

  8. Janet,

    Apparently all husbands named Dan think the same. Years ago I used to serve spaghetti squash in place of pasta and it was met with a very lukewarm response. Once I started adding the squash to whole wheat pasta he liked it much more. I hope the idea works at your house too.



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