Used to buying jars of pasta sauce? We’re about to fix that.
Spaghetti squash is a naturally gluten-free alternative to pasta, and also just a great choice if you’re looking for a lighter dish for the warm summer weather. Paired with this delicious, homemade pasta sauce, this recipe is super easy, ridiculously cheap, very filling, and totally healthy.
The lentils and the sauce can easily be doubled and the leftovers freeze and reheat beautifully, so you can cook once and eat twice with almost no extra effort. Because this recipe is so quick, it’s perfect for a weeknight meal. It’s packed full of fantastic nutrients, but still hearty enough to satisfy the hungriest eaters. Round it out with some steamed broccoli, a crisp salad, or even add a couple slices of garlic bread, and you’ve got a feast on your hands.
Fire-roasted diced tomatoes are a major staple of my pantry. They’re very inexpensive, last for ages, and are a flavorful addition to pastas, soups, stews, chilis, and more. I specifically prefer the fire-roasted variety because I find them to have much more flavor than regular diced tomatoes. I also always keep dried lentils on hand, because they cook up in way less time than other dried beans, and add lots of great protein, fiber, and nutrients to my dishes. You should also sort through your lentils before cooking with them, and remove any small stones or other debris that sometimes end up in the package. I like to spend a little time sorting them when I first get home from the grocery store, then store them in mason jars in my cabinet so I can grab and go in an instant.
Roasted Spaghetti Squash & Lentil Tomato Sauce
FOR THE SPAGHETTI SQUASH
– 1 spaghetti squash
– 2 tsp olive oil, divided
– salt and pepper to taste
– 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
FOR THE SAUCE
– 1/2 cup dry brown or green lentils
– 1 vegan bouillion cube (optional)
– 2 cups water or vegetable broth
– 1/4 onion, diced
– 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 15-oz cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
– 2 tbsp tomato paste
– 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
– 1 tsp dried basil
– salt and pepper to taste
Sort and rinse your lentils. Place them in a small saucepan with the bouillon and water or broth. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes or until tender.
While the lentils are cooking, prepare the squash. Preheat your oven to 400F. Using a large kitchen knife, carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a large spoon and either discard, or set aside to roast. Drizzle the cut-sides of the squash with 1 tsp olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place cut-side down on a baking sheet and cover with foil. Roast 30-45 minutes until the squash is tender. Take the pan out of the oven, remove the foil, and let cool slightly.
Once your lentils are tender, strain off any extra liquid, then pour the lentils into a bowl, and set them aside.
In the same pot, saute the onions over medium heat until translucent (you can add a little more oil for this, or use a few tablespoons of the lentil broth for a lower-calorie option!). Add the garlic and cook about 30 second, until fragrant. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, balsamic, lentils, basil, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine. Cover, turn the heat to medium low, and allow to simmer.
When your squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to gently scrape all the spaghetti-like strands out into a bowl. Discard the rind. Season the squash with the remaining 1 tsp of olive oil, nutritional yeast salt, and pepper. Toss to combine.
After 10-15 minutes, the tomatoes will have broken down and the sauce will have reached a nice, thick consistency. Remove from the heat.
Serve the squash with a generous helping of sauce. A simple mixed salad, or your favorite green vegetable makes a nice addition – we went with some steamed broccoli florets.
You can double the portions when cooking your lentils in the first step, and save the rest for another dish later in the week. Cooked lentils freeze and reheat beautifully!
Because I only use a tablespoon or two of tomato paste for most recipes, I like to store the remaining paste in the freezer. My favorite method is to scoop it by the level tablespoon onto a plate or small tray lined with parchment paper, and then pop it into the freezer to set until solid. Transfer the frozen paste to a freezer-space bag or other container, and then use straight from the freezer as needed. Since they are pre-measured, it’s easy to grab what you need and store the rest for later.