Quinoa with Spaghetti Squash and Dill-Almond Pesto

Quinoa with Spaghetti Squash and Dill-Almond Pesto

Detox Resolution Recipe Series: Using whole grains, vegetables, lean meats and healthier fats in recipes that you may find taste really good!

My husband, Richard, has been reduced to a statistic, resolving to lose 10 pounds before Valentine’s Day. According to research statistics on various web sites such as proactivechange.com, losing weight, along with an exercise program and smoking cessation, top the list of New Year resolutions.

We all know how hard it is to lose weight and he asked for my support in making calorically-reduced dinners.

Richard has put another request on the table: He wants to make sure these dinners taste good. Got it, big guy! After my holiday indulgences, I’m craving flavorful vegetables, whole grains and lean meat myself.

I can’t think of a better place in town for nutritional inspiration than the Ann Arbor People’s Co-op, located on Fourth Avenue across from the Farmers Market in Kerrytown. It’s a full-line grocery specializing in natural foods– and, oh, what a grocery!

I take my time in the Co-op’s atmosphere of mellow conviviality, and make my shopping list while lunching beside the window of Café Verde, which adjoins the Co-op.

Contemplating my list, I enjoy a plate of savory delectables from the café’s food bar. Proteins like tofu and chicken (free-range/hormone free), vegan dishes, soups, salad greens and toppings are loaded into the hot and cold bar for lunch. Various juices and a full-line of Fair Trade coffee’s and teas are available at the counter to complement your meal.

Lunching at the Co-op, It’s easy to realize that a healthy diet can, indeed, be delicious.

The consumer-owned cooperative is comprised of 6500 member-owners but is also open to non-members. My friend Alecia has been shopping at the Co-op since it’s inception in a tiny basement on Packard in 1971. “I especially love the local produce and excellent organics in bulk,” she says.

My shopping list begins with whole grains. The virtues of incorporating whole grains into one’s diet was not entirely borne by the recommendations of the rightly extolled Mediterranean Diet. Lately, I’ve been trading food stories with Kevin Sharp, the Marketing and Member Services Manager for the Co-op.

Kevin tells me the health benefits resulting from regularly eating whole grains is certainly not a new idea. “I have a book which belonged to a great aunt of mine. It was printed in the early 1900’s and is titled “How to Live to be 100”, said Kevin.

“It extols the virtues of not over-indulging, regular exercise, avoiding over-cooking vegetables and it gives tips on incorporating whole grains into the diet. I don’t know to what extent my great aunt followed that advice, but she did live to be nearly 103”, he added.

I’ll bet Kevin’s aunt would have loved quinoa (“keen-wa”). I’ve always appreciated it for it’s nutty flavor and delightfully light and poppy texture. In addition to these attributes, quinoa is also a nutritional powerhouse, valued for its high protein content.

Many assume quinoa is a grain but Wikipedia describes it as a grain-like crop grown for its edible seeds. Like many items sold at the Co-op, the red quinoa from the Anapqui Cooperative in Bolivia is Fair Trade certified, meaning the product was produced meeting specified environmental and labor criteria.

In this recipe, I topped quinoa with spaghetti squash which is easy to cook and fun to eat. Its mild flavor is a great foil for a flavorful pesto punch. Fresh herb pesto ingredients can always be mixed and matched according to your palate and the contents of your fridge. Fresh basil could be used instead of dill, Parmesan substituted for the feta, and walnuts or pine nuts for the sliced almonds.

I relish having leftovers of this healthy dish and sent Richard to work with the a container. Quinoa will give him the strength he needs to resist his notorious sweet tooth!

Recipe: Quinoa with Spaghetti Squash and Dill-Almond Pesto


  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa; black, red or white
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup packed finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/3 cups sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup chopped feta


  1. Preheat oven to 375˚.
  2. Prick the whole squash in several places, about 12 times, with a skewer or other sharp pointed object. Place whole squash on a baking sheet on middle rack of oven; roast 1 hour.
  3. While squash is roasting, in a medium-sized saucepan, bring stock and quinoa to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, 15-30 minutes. Toss cooked quinoa with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season to taste with kosher salt, if desired, and freshly ground pepper.
  4. Meanwhile, make a pesto by combining garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, dill and feta.
  5. When squash is baked and cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise with a sharp knife. Scoop the seeds and fibrous strings from the center of the squash and discard.
  6. Scrape the prongs of a kitchen fork over the squash flesh to shred the pulp into spaghetti-like strands. You should have 3-4 cups.
  7. In 4-6 serving bowls or dishes, divide quinoa, then top with shredded squash and center a spoonful of pesto on top of the squash.

Squash Roast Time: 1 hour

Active Time: 30 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 4-6 main course servings

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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