PESTO PARMESAN SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH SHRIMP

Serve up dinner for two in style with this Pesto Parmesan Spaghetti Squash with Shrimp! Tender strands of squash tossed with spinach, pesto, and parmesan, then topped with the most delicious seasoned shrimp. 
After quite a few friends mentioned loving my Cheesy Garlic Parmesan Spaghetti Squash with shrimp added to the mix, I had to give it a try for myself. Holy COW! The combination was nothing short of fantastic and SO filling too. Win-win.

Ever since that glorious day, I’ve been shrimpifying my spaghetti squash and loving every second of it.
Since I obviously need to let my blog buddies in on the fun, here’s a super simple recipe for pesto parmesan spaghetti squash with shrimp!
You can serve this up in the built-in veggie bowl that makes spaghetti squash oh-so awesome or pile the tender strands in a spaghetti-like tower on a plate. Both are excellent options as long as you get this in your face, stat!
Seriously, run to the kitchen! Cook all the things!

Ingredients
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp olive or avocado oil, divided
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of pesto
  • 1 ounce fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 8-10 ounces fresh raw shrimp (defrosted if frozen)
  • 1/4 tsp regular paprika
  •  1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (spicy)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 TBSP chopped parsley, optional garnish 

Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Slice your spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. For easy cutting, you can microwave your squash for 4 minutes to soften it up just a tad. The knife slides through way easier this way!
  3. Rub the cut side of the squash with 1/2 tsp olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Roast face-down for about 40 minutes, or until tender and easily pierced with a fork. Cooking time will vary a bit depending on the size of your squash, and larger squash will need to roast a bit longer to tenderize. Once ready, the once rock-hard exterior of the squash will be visibly softened with a tender interior.
  4. While the squash roasts, measure out your seasoning, clean your shrimp, and defrost if needed. Lately I've been buying frozen, deveined, easy peel shrimp. All I have to do is defrost, peel (I'll typically leave the tail on for extra flavor while cooking - totally optional!) and cook! I avoid pre-cooked shrimp at all costs because the texture doesn't work for me.
  5. Once squash is roasted, allow to cool slightly until easily handled.
  6. While it cools, pat your shrimp dry and season with paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper - plus any salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Heat a stainless steel skillet to medium-high heat with 1 tsp of oil and sauté your shrimp. Cook on each side for about 2 minutes until shrimp curl and become opaque. The saute time will depend on the heat setting you choose and the size of your shrimp, but regardless they’ll be perfectly cooked in a matter of minutes!
  8. Back to the squash! Use a fork to separate and fluff the strands of spaghetti squash and remove strands. While the squash is still warm, toss together with spinach, pesto, and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. The warm strands will wilt your spinach until bright green and glossy. If needed, you can toss the boats back in the oven to warm them up.
  9. Stuff the tasty strands back into your squash boat (load 'em up!) and top with your shrimp.
  10. Dive in while it's hot!
Notes
For this recipe, feel free to use your favorite homemade pesto or your go-to store bought brand.
I love making my own, but when my basil plant doesn't have enough leaves for a batch of green stuff I'll make some zesty kale pesto or pick up a tub of Buitoni pesto (so good!) found near the chilled pastas at my local store. Anything goes!

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