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Quinoa + Lentil Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash

Author - Alyssa Rimmer

A hearty LENTIL BOLOGNESE sauce with quinoa and served over spaghetti squash -- perfect for meatless monday! [vegan + gf]

This super HEALTHY & VEGAN bolognese sauce is made with lentils + quinoa -- it's meaty without the meat products! [gf + df]

Today I'm partnering with my friends from Tuttorosso to not only give you this cozy lentil bolognese recipe, but to also talk about canned tomatoes.

I've been using canned tomatoes my whole life. Growing up in an Italian family, my mom (and grandmother) would make spaghetti sauce from scratch all the time. Without giving away our secret recipe, the base is a blend of a bunch of different types of canned tomatoes – sauce, paste, diced and crushed – so while I'm very familiar with those types, I do have to admit my knowledge of the whole peeled variety is somewhat lack luster.

Which is why when Tuttorosso asked if I would be interested in being an ambassador, specifically talking about their whole peeled tomatoes, I jumped at the chance. Not only did I already love their tomatoes, but this was going to give me a chance to really explore how to use this type of tomato in my cooking.

Our first challenge? To compare the integrity of Tuttorosso tomatoes vs. Hunts tomatoes.

Tuttorosso Tomato Challenge: the quality difference between these two cans were astonishing!

At first this challenge sounded kind of silly, but as soon as I cracked open the cans I realized why we were doing this. If you're anything like me, then you've probably never thought about what the whole tomatoes look like when they come out of the can. So you can imagine my surprise when I poured out both cans and the difference was incredible.

Not only was the color a lot more vibrant, but it was how the actual tomatoes looked.

The Tuttorosso ones were actually whole. I mean…what a novel concept, right? Whole peeled tomatoes that come out of the can WHOLE. Hunts on the other hand? Some were whole, but most were smashed.

It kind of makes you think, doesn't it? What's different about some canned products? So I started doing a little digging and what I came to discover was that, unlike other popular brands (like Hunts), Tuttorosso not only doesn't use preservatives, but their tomatoes are also sustainably produced, non-GMO verified, have no artificial colors or flavors, are allergen free, are made in the US AND they're in non-BPA lined cans.

Given all that…I'm not surprised their tomatoes were in way better shape. (and that they also tasted better)

The secret to PERFECT lentil bolognese sauce...puree part of it so it's super thick and creamy!

When it got to cooking with them, I wanted to try something a little different than I'm used to. I was initially thinking a stew, but I got pulled back to my Italian roots and decided on a vegan bolognese instead. The beauty of this sauce is you only need one can of tomatoes and it's packed with veggies. The base is tomatoes, carrots and shallots and the “meatiness” comes in the form of lentils and quinoa.

Similarly to my chilis, adding quinoa to the sauce helps it thicken it, but also provides the illusion of ground meet. Plant-based, high in protein and looks like a meat sauce? Perfection.

The secret to PERFECT lentil bolognese sauce...puree part of it so it's super thick and creamy!

Also, I like my sauces super thick, so rather than using tomato paste, I decided to puree some of the tomatoes with the carrot-shallot mixture. This helped make the bolognese hearty, but still light because it was only vegetables.

OH annnnnd to keep it as light as possible, we're serving this beaut over spaghetti squash.

Super HEALTHY + simple lentil bolognese sauce with quinoa and served over low-cal spaghetti squash [vegan]

If you haven't discovered spaghetti squash yet, this lentil bolognese is probably one of the best trials. Because for those who are a little wary of the sqaushy flavor (like Matt), the sauce masks the flavor every so slightly and the spaghetti squash ends up really just acting as a serving vessel rather than the main focus of the meal.

On the flip side though, if you already love spaghetti squash (like hello…me!), then there's not much to explain, right? Meaty tomato sauce + spaghetti squash = dinner gold 🙂

Super HEALTHY + simple lentil bolognese sauce with quinoa and served over low-cal spaghetti squash [vegan]

Although my Italian side of the family would (and probably will) be slightly horrified to read that I made a bolognese sauce sans ground meat and red wine, I will say, I'm totally digging it. In fact, it really couldn't be more up my alley these days.

I'm really enjoying turing my meals into meatless adventures and honestly feel like the more beans I'm eating, the better I'm feeling (more on that whole situation later). For now, it's all about having simple, easy and affordable meals that we can make in a snap and still enjoy just as much as if there were meat inside.

Your turn…

What do you think about trying to make healthier, meatless meals a few days per week? If your family hasn't started doing this, is there something stopping you? And if you have, what are your favorite meals? I'm always looking for weeknight meal inspiration, so please share any of your favorite recipes below!

And don't forget about the tomato test! I'm definitely planning to apply these principles across all my canned goods – making sure that if I'm buying canned it's the highest quality possible.

xx Alyssa

A simple meatless meal idea >> QUINOA + LENTIL BOLOGNESE (with spaghetti squash)

4.72 from 7 votes
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Quinoa + Lentil Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash

A rich and tasty alternative to the classic pasta dish

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword bolognese, lentil bolognese, Spaghetti squash
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 182 kcal
Author Alyssa Rimmer

Ingredients

  • 1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes (I used Tuttorosso)
  • 1 cup diced carrots about 2 medium
  • 1/2 cup diced shallots about 1 large
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • Salt + pepper to taste
  • Fresh herbs + grated cashews/parmesan cheese to garnish
  • 1 large spaghetti squash or 2 medium

Instructions

  1. Prepare the spaghetti squash according to this recipe/method. While spaghetti squash is roasting, make the sauce.
  2. Drain the tomatoes from the can. Set 4 - 5 whole tomatoes aside and the chop remaining, reserving as much juice as possible.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add carrots, shallots and garlic and saute until garlic is fragrant, about 2 - 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer carrot-shallot mixture to a blender along with whole tomatoes that you set aside. Add 1/4 cup of tomato juice from the can (also called the media) to the blender and puree on high until smooth. Return sauce to the skillet.
  5. Stir in chopped tomatoes, remaining tomato juice/liquid, and the other remaining ingredients. Stir and allow to come to a small simmer. Allow mixture to simmer for 10 - 15 minutes to let the flavor develop, tasting and seasoning with salt and pepper about half way through.
  6. When read to serve, scoop out spaghetti squash and transfer to plates. Top with sauce, fresh herbs, "cheese" and additional salt and pepper if desired. (you can also add crushed red pepper flakes if you like some heat)
Nutrition Facts
Quinoa + Lentil Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash
Amount Per Serving
Calories 182 Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 6%
Sodium 267mg 11%
Potassium 784mg 22%
Total Carbohydrates 33g 11%
Dietary Fiber 8g 32%
Sugars 12g
Protein 7g 14%
Vitamin A 81.8%
Vitamin C 21.7%
Calcium 10.6%
Iron 21.3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

This post was sponsored by Tuttorosso, but all opinions are my own. As always, thank you for supporting the brands that I love and I hope you try their tomatoes – I'm not even kidding when I tell you that the quality is out of this world (and the flavor is amazing!)

 

 

This super HEALTHY & VEGAN bolognese sauce is made with lentils + quinoa -- it's meaty without the meat products! [gf + df]

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49 comments
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  1. I can’t tell you how much I have truly enjoyed this recipe! It’s so fresh tasting that I’m not sure I’ll ever make regular bolognese sauce again.

    It’s easy to take to work as a lunch, reheats nicely, always filling and tasty, plus extremely good for you!

    “Thank you!” just doesn’t seem like enough.

    Nancy

  2. I just tried this recipe for my first ever Meatless Monday and it is DELICIOUS! I’m wondering how many calories this meal has per serving? Seems like it would be a lower calorie, healthy option for those of us trying to improve our eating habits. Thanks for such a wonderful recipe, I’m thrilled to have started a new adventure on such a tasty dish!

  3. One of my favorite vegetarian recipes yet! Absolutely delicious. My husband doesn’t like when I cook spaghetti squash with olive oil, Parmesan, and sauteed vegetables, but he loved this. I supposed this recipe probably hides the flavor of squash a bit more than a light sauce. I don’t usually like to eat leftovers but this one was wonderful left over, as well! & I love all the protein I’m getting from one meal!

  4. This recipe, Quinoa + Lentil Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash was quite TASTY.

    I over cooked the lentils, despite over cooking them it was still very tasty. We, my finance and i, really dig the squash part of the recipe, totally replaces traditional pasta.

    My fiance finds herself at your site quite a bit, we’ve tried 4 recipes already. So far, all have been quite good.

    I think my favorite thus far is the Coconut Curry Bowl.

    • So glad you enjoyed it! It’s surprising how filling it is, don’t you think? Glad you’ve both been trying the recipes – the coconut curry is one of my favorites also 🙂

  5. Sounds very yummy! I’ll definitely try it! Thanks for sharing! I have stopped using canned Tomatos a while ago, and now only buy them in a glass jar. Research shows that the tomatoes being acidic, absorb lots of the BPA that the tomato cans are lined with, which is very toxic, especially for kids. Thought I would share! Thank you for all the wonderful recipes! I’m glad I stumbled over your blog! Have a great weekend!!

    • Hi Louana, I’ve heard the same thing which is why I only buy BPA-free cans. There are lots of great options out there – like Tuttorosso! – so just keep your eye out for those brands. Hope you end up trying the recipe and thanks for stopping by! xoxo

  6. This recipe was shockingly delicious! I even used the Tuttorosa tomatoes… I added abt 3 TBS of sherry wine and four sundried tomatoes to make it my own, otherwise followed the directions precisely. It’s so filling and satisfying- we had ours over gluten free pasta. I mixed my leftovers today with arugula for lunch. Amazing recipe! Thanks so much!!

  7. I made this for dinner last night, it was AMAZING!!! I had to stop my self from eating more or I wouldn’t have leftovers for the week 🙂 I used Kelp noodles instead of squash but next time I’ll try with the squash, thank you!!

      • I get the kelp noodles at Whole Foods, the brand is Gold Mine. They don’t need to be cooked, just rinsed. If you don’t heat them they are crunchy which is great for salads or when you add a sauce or broth that is warm they take on the exact texture of a pasta noodle. And they only have 6 calories per serving 🙂 They really do not have a distinctive flavor, they absorb what you are adding to them.

      • King Soba Noodle Culture noodles are 100% buckwheat. They are very yummy. I’ve had to order them onlne because I haven’t found a store near me that carries 100% buckwheat noodles either.
        If you’re interested in trying them, these are yummy, but spaghetti squash is hard to beat. So hard choice.
        But thanks for the very yummy bolognese, Alyssa. I love it. So far the almost 1 year old likes it too. The hubs hasn’t tried it yet, but I’m sure he’ll like it too!

  8. Where are the lentils and quinoa incorporated? I read the instructions twice and there are no mention of them. Are they precooked, to add to the sauce? Or do you warm them up? Or do you make them separate while making sauce? If cooking since I wouldn’t have lentils and quinoa on hand, would the recipe still take 30 minutes or longer?

    • Hi Alice! Both the lentils and quinoa are pre-cooked. And you add them in step 5 where you stir in the remaining ingredients. You’ll want to do that just before you let it simmer. Hope that helps 🙂 Let me know if you have any more questions!

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