BY Jodi Moreno
I often get cravings for pasta, however, I do not always want all of the gluten and processed carbs that go with it. This meal right here satisfies that craving and then some. Spaghetti squash is a tasty and healthy alternative to real spaghetti, especially for those who are gluten-free or for those who avoid gluten and processed carbohydrates. It is a great source of fiber and vitamin C and other vital nutrients. The “lentil” meatballs will give you all of the protein and flavor of a meat meatball, but they are so much better for you. As you may know, lentils are one of the greatest sources of plant-based protein. Millet, a grain with a nutty taste and a texture similar to quinoa, also serves up a healthy does of protein and iron, which is great for vegetarians or vegans who might need some added iron in their diet. So feel free to have seconds of this guilt-free, healthy alternative to pasta!
This meal is vegetarian and gluten-free.
1 large spaghetti squash
for the arrabiata sauce:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
½ cup of red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red chili, minced (or ½ a teaspoon of red pepper flakes)
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
½ teaspoon of salt
28 oz can of whole roasted tomatoes
for the lentil “meatballs”:
½ cup of millet, rinsed
2 cups of red lentils
2 tablespoons of grapeseed (or another high heat oil)
½ cup of red onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
6-8 crimini or button mushrooms, finely chopped
½ teaspoon of salt
fresh ground pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon of garlic powder
½ teaspoon of dried parsley
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup of garbanzo bean flour
optional garnish: a pinch of crushed red pepper, chopped parsley, or parmesan cheese
To bake the spaghetti squash:
Pre-heat the oven to 375º
Place the squash on a baking sheet (whole) and bake for about 1 hour.
Let it rest until you are ready to assemble the spaghetti squash and sauce.
Keep the oven on at the same temp to cook the “meatballs.”
While the squash is baking, start working on the lentil “meatballs”:
Start by cooking the millet. Place the millet in a small pot with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 25-30 minutes, until all of the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and set aside.
While the millet is cooking, place the lentils in a medium pot with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Drain the lentils and run them under cold water. Make sure you get rid of most of the moisture.
Next, place a cast iron pan over medium heat, add the grapeseed oil and sauté the onions and garlic for about 2 minutes. Then add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until browned. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
In large bowl, combine the lentils with the mushrooms mixture. Add the salt, pepper, garlic powder and dried parsley and stir. Next, add the eggs, and stir. Then add the flour and stir. Lastly, add the millet and stir until everything is combined.
Place the mixture in the refrigerator for 20 minutes (or longer) while you start to make the sauce.
Prepare the arrabiata sauce:
In a cast iron pan (you can use the same one you used to sauté the mushrooms), over medium heat sauté the garlic, onion, and red chili in the olive oil for about 5 minutes, until tender. Add the oregano and salt and sauté for another minute. Then add the tomatoes. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20-30 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, shape and cook the lentil “meatballs”:
Prepare baking sheet and line it with parchment paper.
Take a small amount of the mixture and shape it into a ball by rolling it between your palms. (Note: If the mixture has not chilled long enough, the “meatballs” might not hold together well. If that is happening, just let it sit in the refrigerator until it is holding together). Place the formed “meatballs” on the parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake them in the oven for 10 minutes.
Remove them from the oven, and finish cooking in the tomato sauce. Place all of the “meatballs” in the pan with the sauce and roll them around to coat. Allow them to simmer for several minutes while you prepare the squash.
Prepare the spaghetti squash:
Cut the cooked squash in half lengthwise.
Using a spoon, remove the seeds and the pulp and discard. Then, continue to remove the insides by scraping with a spoon and place the spaghetti squash in a large bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt.
Finish assembling the dish:
Spoon the arrabiata sauce over the squash. Give it a light toss to combine. Spoon the spaghetti squash with the arrabiata sauce onto plates, and finish with a couple of lentil “meatballs”.
Serve warm with an optional garnish of some crushed red pepper, chopped parsley, and/or parmesan cheese.
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