Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lentil Spaghetti Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

Lentils beat out meat analogs any single day. Protein and fiber for sustained goodness, iron for energy, and phosphorus/copper/magnesium for strong bones. Not to mention, lentils have a pretty incredible texture that make them easy peasy to swap out traditional "meat" equivalents. Take for example my lentil sloppy joes. Another really great way to share the lentil love is in spaghetti formation...using them as the base in spaghetti sauce vs real or faux meat crumbles. I promise, the zesty, hearty sauce will have everyone scooping up seconds regardless of their bean affection.

Also, because the temperatures outside are cooking, I wanted something lighter than pasta and chose to roast a giant spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash is actually a non-starchy vegetable (aka, lots of water, not very many calories) despite it being more of a winter sqaush. Your other winter sqaushes - acorn, butternut, delicata, etc - are going to have less water and more "starch" or carbohydrate. Not a bad thing, just noteworthy if you are diabetic/pre-diabetic or following a consistent carbohydrate diet. So, by switching to spaghetti squash- load up on the "noodles" loves! If you aren't familiar with cooking/roasting a squash - no worries. Simply dig out a big knife, use your muscles, cut the yellow guy in half, and then scoop out any of the inerds (seeds and fibrous tenderals). Place the squash halves face up, brush lightly with oil, and roast at 375-400 degrees farenheit for about 30-45 min (depending on how big your squash was). Bam. Done. Well, it will be done when you can use a fork to start peeling away the "meat" aka your soon to be noodles. The will look just like spaghetti noodles - so awesome! I like to roast the squash with the middle facing up, so it helps remove excess moisture - essentially so you don't end up with a puddle of water on plate after dishing up.

Ok, onward to the lentil sauce. 1. It will make a ton - so, feed an army or it saves (even freezes) incredibly well.  2. Lentils cook in a half hour and if you don't want to make the sauce - use ~2 of your favorite jarred sauce and you have a quick, inexpensive, super tasty weekday meal. 3. You'll want to make it your next plant powered meal.

Lentil Spaghetti Sauce
Serves 8-10

2 cups (1 16oz pound bag) dried lentils
2 cups water
2 cups broth (can use all water if watching sodium)
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, finely diced (optional)
2 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons dried italian seasoning (or blend dried basil, sage, oregano, rosemary...)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
crushed red pepper (optional)

1. Bring water and broth to consistent boil. Add lentils, onion, garlic, and carrots. Reduce heat to low medium. Simmer about 30 minutes until lentils are tender.
2. Save yourself dishes and once lentils are cooked add tomatoes and seasoning. Leave out sweetener (maple syrup) until 5-10 minutes before serving. Allow the flavors to blend together, simmering on low heat an additional 20 minutes. If you're short on time- bring the sauce together in a different pot while lentils cook, or use jarred sauce. Add more water if you prefer thinner consistency, and season according to taste buds.
3. Serve lentil spaghetti squash over cooked noodles or roasted spaghetti squash as pictured.

Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions!

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