Rainbow Veggie Lentil Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash
Rainbow Veggie Lentil Bolognese is a veggie-packed Italian-inspired dish. Made with a rainbow of veggies, lentils, and paired with spaghetti squash for a fiberful meal. The flavors in this dish are incredible, and it’s full of texture from all the veggies. You won’t even miss the meat in this dish! Lentils make for an excellent ground beef replacement in many dishes, as they are little and hearty.
There are plenty of health reasons humans should consider cutting down on meat consumption, and not just for the health our bodies—but also for our planet. By eating more plants, we offer a win-win scenario for our bodies and the planet, as animal products play a significant role in climate change and also chronic disease risk. Plants may be beneficial for preventing common diseases such as, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and some cancers. Plants are packed full of many beneficial factors such as fiber and phytonutrients– which are health promoting properties found widely in whole plant foods. I linked a bunch of great videos here from NutritionFacts.org (my employer), as there is such a wealth of information on that website!
SQUASH SWAPS: Feel free to swap the squash with your favorite bean or whole grain pasta! I used spaghetti squash because it was sitting on the counter and needed to be used. I was also thinking to serve this dish over roasted sweet potatoes or even quinoa, both sounded like lovely options!
PICK YOUR VEG: feel free to swap in any of your favorite veggies. Zucchini, corn, sweet potatoes, beets.. etc. Just cut everything into small bite-sized pieces, especially if using potatoes and beets to they cook well.
TOMATOES: I used canned tomatoes when I made this recipe, but feel free to use fresh! I would love to use fresh, but we are in the middle of a shelter-in-place due to the coronavirus, so I am using a combo of fresh, canned, frozen, and dried ingredients.
CAULIFLOWER: Cauliflower rice can be fresh or frozen. If using frozen, thaw it out a bit in the microwave before adding. If you can’t find fresh or frozen cauliflower rice, it’s easy to make at home. Just wash, dry, and then chop the cauliflower. Add it to a food processor and pulse. Remove the larger pieces and then pour the rest into a bowl, add the cauliflower back in and pulse again until all the cauliflower reaches desired texture.
1-2 large spaghetti squash
1 cup dry lentils (green, French, or black)
1 large red onion
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 bell peppers (orange and yellow, or any color will work)
4 cups cauliflower rice*
2.5 cups diced tomato (or 28 oz BPA-free can of diced tomatoes)
6-8 oz BPA-free or jarred tomato paste
4-5 cups chopped kale
1 tablespoon white miso paste
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Wash the squash and then cut it in half length side. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place the squash cut-side down on a baking sheet with edges. Add a bit of water to the bottom of the sheet. Cook the squash for about 30-40 minutes.
- While the squash is cooking, prepare the lentils. Rinse the lentils well and then combine in a pot with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 20-30 minutes (I cover mine for about 10-15 minutes when I first lower the heat and then uncover for the remaining time to let any water boil off). Drain off the excess liquids (optional to leave the liquid, but be sure to adjust the water added later).
- Wash the produce. Dice the onion and add to a large pot with about ¼ cup of water. Sauté the onions until they start to soften. Add the garlic, thyme, oregano, basil, and fennel. Sauté lightly, and add more water if needed to keep from sticking.
- Chop the bell peppers and add to the pot with the onions. Stir in the cauliflower rice. Continue to sauté until the peppers soften a bit.
- Dice the tomatoes, or drain off the liquids from the canned tomatoes (optional to leave the liquids, but be sure to adjust the water added later). Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste to the pot. Stir in 2 cups of water (if using liquid from the canned tomatoes and any excess liquid from the lentils, be sure to adjust the amount of water added. You may only need to add ½-1 cup of water). Simmer the dish on medium-low heat for about 20-30 minutes.
- When there is about 10-15 minutes left, add the chopped kale. Combine the miso with ¼ cup of water and stir into the pot.
- Using a fork, scrape the squash out of the shell lengthwise. It should form a spaghetti- like texture. Combine the squash and lentil Bolognese in bowls or plates. Top with nutritional yeast or crushed red pepper, if desired.
Makes about 10-12 cups of lentil Bolognese.
Serves about 4-6 people.