Spaghetti Squash and Cinnamon Lentil Bean Balls

I love spaghetti and meatballs.  It contains everything you could possibly want in one bowl.  Pasta, juicy meatballs, and marinara sauce are all good things!  But I’m not a normal kind of girl.  Pasta and meatballs is too boring for me.  And did I mention I love veggies?  So I sought after the perfect pasta and meatball dish, which turns out for me to have no pasta or meat.  It took a couple tries, but I finally succeeded.  This dish not only resembles classic pasta and meatballs, but it has the same textures and a wonderful flavor that is different, yet just as delicious!

I made this for dinner a couple nights ago.  One of the coolest parts of discovering this dish was that depending on how long you cook the spaghetti squash, it’s “noodles” can be anywhere from al dente to mushy.  Just like real pasta!  It doesn’t take much to excite me.  The lentil bean balls I topped the spaghetti squash with came out much better than I expected!  The lentils and mushrooms provide a meaty-ness while the dried herbs and garlic give the balls a true meatball flavor.  Cinnamon is the secret spice that might sound weird to add to these bean balls, but trust me on this one.  It adds a slightly sweet flavor that warms the other flavors and pairs spectacularly with the spaghetti squash noodles!

I will give you a warning: making the bean balls is a messy process!  You can’t be afraid to get your hands dirty because, like making actual meatballs, the best method to mix the ingredients together is by hand.  On the bright side, you won’t be elbow deep in raw beef.  Yet another reason to eat more vegetables 🙂  This is a really delicious meal that is fun and different.  Use it to change up your usual pasta routine.  Don’t forget the red wine!

Spaghetti Squash and Cinnamon Lentil Bean Balls
vegan, gluten free, dairy free

For the Spaghetti Squash:

1 spaghetti squash*

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 F.  Cut a spaghetti squash in half long-wise, and scoop out all the seeds. Place skin side up in a baking pan filled with about 3/4 inch of water.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until tender when poked with a fork.

*One spaghetti squash will yield two servings (one half = one serving)

For the Cinnamon Lentil Bean Balls:

1 cup green lentils
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 14oz package baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and diced
1 medium onion, diced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, chopped fine
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (use certified gluten free if necessary)
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed + 6 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 heaping tsp dried oregano
1 heaping tsp dried parsley
1 heaping tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 sea salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Prepare flax eggs by whisking the ground flaxseed with the water and put aside.

2. Add lentils and vegetable broth to a pot on high heat.  Once it starts boiling, put a lid on it and turn the heat down to a simmer.  Cook 15-20 minutes or until all the broth is absorbed. Let cool.

3. Add onions and carrots to a pan with olive oil.  Saute on medium low heat for about 10 minutes or until onions are translucent.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, or until garlic is fragrant.  Next add the spices and mushrooms.  Cook for 2 minutes then remove from heat.

4. Place cooled lentils in the base of a food processor.  Process until a paste forms, about 1 minute stopping every so often to scrape down the sides.  It does not have to be completely smooth.

5.  In a large bowl add processed lentils, sautéed vegetables, toasted walnut pieces, and flax eggs.  Mix with hands until everything is well incorporated.

6. Using a 1/4 cup muffin scoop (or eyeball measurement with a big spoon), scoop out veggie mixture and roll into round balls before placing on the prepared pan.  Bake for 1 hour, flipping the bean balls over after 40 minutes.

To Assemble Spaghetti Squash and Cinnamon Lentil Bean Balls:

Take roasted spaghetti squish and using a fork, flake the squash “noodles” away from the skin.

Add desired amount of meatballs on top of the prepared squash.  You can either leave it in the skin, or remove the skin and serve it piled on a plate.

 Top with desired amount of marinara sauce, and enjoy!

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2 Comments

  1. This is so cute and I was surprised at how it actually looked like a pile of spaghetti with meatballs on my plate. The cinnamon taste is just subtle enough to be ok with the taste of pasta sauce. My husband thinks they would go better with traditional grain pasta (but he never really liked squash anyway). Since this was only my third time using my food processor, I started with the wrong blade, but after switching I got the desired result. Overall, I will definitely be repeating the cinnamon lentil bean ball part of this recipe (and perhaps a variety without cinnamon to please picky eaters). Thanks for sharing!

  2. Spaghetti squash is defiantly not for everyone. Regular pasta would be wonderful here, and if it gets more people to try the bean balls, all the better 🙂 I have served these balls over sautéed kale and rice (or any grain really) before and it is also delicious. Play around until you find what works for you! That's the beauty of recipes like this.

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