This recipe is a traditionally made with pasta, this gluten-free variation uses spaghetti squash instead of noodles. Mediterranean-style herbs, caramelized onion and good-quality olives make this an amazingly flavorful meal. Spaghetti squash is a versatile low-calorie vegetable that supplies complex carbohydrates needed to fuel long runs, hard workouts and other intense training sessions. A dish like this one is also an excellent choice as part of a postworkout recovery meal. The body’s muscles and other tissues need to be replenished with carbohydrates paired with some protein; the combination of fiber-rich vegetables and easy-to-digest lentils is a perfect option due to its overall nutritional package. Reprinted with permission from Plant Powered Athlete by Zuzana Fajkusova and Nikki Lefler, Page Street Publishing Co. 2020. Photo credit: Nikki Lefler
Greek-Style Spaghetti Squash [Vegan]
- 1 (3-lb [1.4-kg]) spaghetti squash
- 1/2 cup (113 g) dried green lentils, soaked in water for 8 hours, or 1 cup (198 g) cooked
- 1/2 cup (80 g) thinly sliced red onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cider vinegar
- 1 bell pepper, any color, seeded and diced
- 1 tablespoon (6 g) dried Mediterranean herb mix or any combination of rosemary, oregano, marjoram, za’atar, thyme and sage
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup (150 g) cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup (30 g) fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup (25 g) raw black olives, pitted and sliced (see pro tip)
- 1 teaspoon capers (optional) Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scrape out and discard the seeds and membranes. Place the halves, cut side down, in a large baking dish and add 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) of water. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until tender.
- Meanwhile, if using dried lentils, rinse them well after soaking and place in a saucepan in 1 cup (240 ml) of water. Cook, covered over medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes, adding more water as needed to make sure the lentils are just barely covered. Once tender and no longer crunchy, remove from the heat and set aside.
- Remove the squash from the oven. Turn the squash halves cut side up and let cool for 10 minutes. Then, using a fork, scrape out the spaghetti squash strands. If your squash is very moist, you might have to place the strands in a colander and pat them dry with a clean cloth or kitchen towel.
- Place the squash strands in a large glass bowl. Gently mix in the lentils.
- In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of water over medium-high heat. Add the red onion and garlic and sauté for 4 minutes. Add the cider vinegar and cook for 5 more minutes, or until the onion is nicely browned.
- Lower the heat to medium-low and mix in the bell pepper, Mediterranean herbs and salt. Cook for another 4 minutes before gently stirring into the squash mixture.
- Toss in the cherry tomatoes, parsley, olives and capers (if using). Sprinkle with black pepper and serve.