It is my favorite food season of the year! Early-mid September in eastern PA we now have a great mix of fall foods (squash and apples for example) while still being able to benefit from summer produce such as tomatoes! I purchased my first spaghetti squash of the season but also still have an abundance of tomatoes and basil growing in our backyard so a classic Italian spaghetti squash dish was in the works. This meal, unfortunately though, provides no protein so adding lentils to the mix was perfect. My last Italian style spaghetti squash post is pretty simple using white beans, but I know my husband loves a good bolognese and lentils give much more of that texture. Plus, they are more rich in many minerals including iron.
The best part about this dish is that it took me next to no time to prepare when I had a few hours at home. With spaghetti squash in the oven I chopped the ingredients for the sauce and tossed them into the crockpot. With the squash out of the oven I had time for laundry and grading assignments. Then I added lentils and seasonings to the slow cooker to let cook while I was at the NAC providing nutrition classes for members. When Tim and I got home, dinner (and today’s lunch) was ready to go!
Spaghetti Squash with Plum Tomato and Lentil Bolognese (GF, V, DF)
Ingredients (see below for beneficial properties of these ingredients):
1 Medium Spaghetti Squash
4-5 cloves garlic, minced (less if you don’t LOVE this flavor like me)
1 Medium yellow onion, diced
4-5 cups chopped plum tomatoes
1 Cup dried green lentils
2 Cups water + 2 tbsp tomato paste or 2 Cups no sodium tomato sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (or 1/2 tbsp dried)
1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp crushed red pepper
Salt & ground black pepper to taste
-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
-Take your spaghetti squash and carefully cut in half lengthwise. The first cut may seem difficult but once the knife is in its a lot easier to cut the rest of the squash.
-Dig out the seeds & pulp (you can save seeds for the roasted seed recipe)
-Place face down on a baking dish and cook for 30 minutes. When the squash is done you should easily be able to stick a fork in through the skin.
-Remove it from the oven & carefully flip so the flesh side is up.
-With a fork, you’ll basically want to “rake” from one side to the other to remove the “spaghetti”.
-While spaghetti squash is in the oven, mince garlic, dice onions and tomatoes,
and chop any fresh herbs.
-Add to crockpot on high heat for 2 hours.
-After 2 hours, when mixture becomes more liquid in texture, add 1 Cup of lentils and spices.
-Maintain high heat an additional 4 hours.
Portion the spaghetti squash into bowls and top with ample amounts of bolognese! While the volume may seem high, calories are not, so feel free to add a high quality parmesan or asiago (preferably raw and grass fed) and if dairy free, some cashew cheese or nutritional yeast. A side salad or green veggie is also recommended 🙂
If you are looking for other spaghetti squash recipes, it is super versatile so I have posted several. Try my Mexican style spaghetti squash if you’re in a fiesta mood or my walnut avocado pesto over spaghetti squash with peas.
Do you have any other fun and nutritious spaghetti squash recipes you enjoy? Please share!
Real Ingredients with Real Health Benefits:
Spaghetti Squash isn’t going to provide you with tons of one specific nutrient but it will contribute a balanced amount of most vitamins and minerals to your diet especially Vitamins C & B6. What shines for spaghetti squash is the fiber & healthy carbohydrate content as well as the carotenoid antioxidants.
Lentils don’t get as much attention as they should as they provide more protein and iron than beans and are often easier on the GI tract. You’ll get lots of B-vitamins from this legume, especially thiamin and folate. They’re also a great source of choline, potassium and many minerals. Lentils are high in both insoluble and soluble fiber; soluble being the type that helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and keep you feeling full. Green and black lentils provide much more fiber than red.
Tomatoes pack in lots of Vitamins A, C, and the important fluid balance mineral Potassium. They are well known in terms of phytochemical content for their lycopene which is known for reducing risk of prostate cancer. This was one of the first phytochemicals that really made a name for itself. It is often forgotten that tomatoes also provide other carotenoids and flavonoids such as quercitin.
Basil is a great source of vitamin K as well as some iron, calcium, and Vitamin A. The phytochemicals in basil have been found to be anti-inflammatory, heart healthy, and anti-bacterial.
Garlic provides the phytochemicals allicin and sulfides which are linked to improved immunity and respiratory health.
Onions are a good source of Vitamins C & B6, folate and even provide potassium & magnesium. Onions are also packed with phytochemicals known to promote cardiovascular and respiratory health.