For a while now I’ve been craving the creamy, zesty deliciousness of pesto. There were a couple times recently I even stopped in the pasta aisle at Whole Foods to check out the pesto selection. But, wanting to hold true to limiting my dairy intake as much as possible, and also not wanting to pay ridiculous prices for the pre-made dairy-free option (hello $7 for a pouch?!), it took me a while to get off my butt and make a dairy-free option from scratch.

Really, pesto isn’t that difficult. Mostly I was just being lazy, but I was also a bit skeptical of pesto without cheese. I am happy to report, however, that this pesto recipe I adapted from Good + Simple is creamy and delicious and if I hadn’t made it myself I wouldn’t have even known it didn’t contain cheese!

As for the rest of this meal, spaghetti squash is a great low carb, gluten free option to pasta (plus, it’s delicious and a sneaky way to eat more plants), and chicken breast is a versatile source of lean protein that compliments the pesto nicely.

Zesty Paleo Pesto Pasta

Ingredients (for 4 servings)

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • salt and pepper to taste, plus other seasonings if desired (I like Be Runa black truffle seed salt)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 2oz package fresh basil
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup mixed walnuts and cashews
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tsp olive oil

To prepare:

Start by brining the chicken. Place thawed chicken in a baking dish and fill the dish with water. Sprinkle in a bit of salt and place the dish in the refrigerator, letting the chicken soak for about an hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, then scoop out the seeds. Drizzle with 1 tsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then place face down on a baking sheet and cook for 35 to 40 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, once the chicken is done brining, drain water, and drizzle with 1 tsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and other seasonings if desired. Cook at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until no longer pink in the middle. Remove the spaghetti squash and chicken from the oven when they are done. Use a fork to scrape out the inside of the squash (the flesh should come out easily in strings that resemble pasta). Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, and set aside.

As the squash and chicken are baking (or after they are done), prepare the pesto. In a food processor, add the basil, garlic, lemon juice, and nuts. Pulse a couple times to start the blending process, then slowly add in olive oil a little bit at a time until the spread is thoroughly blended or reaches desired consistency. Wash cherry tomatoes and cut in half.

At this point, all ingredients are ready to combine! For one serving, place 1/4 of the spaghetti squash on a plate, then top with 1/4 of the pesto, 1/4 of the chicken, and 1/4 of the cherry tomatoes. Alternatively, place all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine, or portion into single serving containers and store for convenient lunch or dinner throughout the week!

Did you try this recipe? Leave me a comment and let me know how you liked it! 🙂