Did you have a good Valentine’s Day? I don’t think I have been told to celebrate Valentine’s Day more than yesterday (and I forgot to call my parents, OOPS!). It almost felt like a national holiday, with everyone at work asking about the evening plans, rushing to finish early for the weekend. Is it because Texans are just so friendly? Or because Americans love holidays?
Rob and I have never been big fan of V-Day, enjoying each other’s company more than anything else. Rare gifts and certainly no cards, this year was the most low-key ever. A nice dinner with friends. True to his word, Rob and Matt had a feast ready for me just as I stepped (pedalled) home: Holy Moley Veggie and Rice Soup and corn tortillas followed by Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls. Actually, the order was reversed, we ate the dessert as an appetizer while we waited for the veggies to cook. I had offered to make dessert but Rob saved the day.
Rob also registered us for Cycle Oregon. Tent porter, and all: we’re committed. Lucky (or unlucky) for me, cycling is easier on me than walking.
After a few weeks of rest and recovery, I resumed my daily cycling commute this week. I also swapped my HIIT classes at the gym for weights. No impact and no balance required. Mostly upper body. My knees may be resting but I am certainly still keeping active. I don’t think my arms have ever worked so hard. Although while it would be nice to have a goal to do an unassisted pull-up (NOT happening anytime soon), I think a more realistic goal will be to be able to refill the water cooler at work without too much difficulty. I am a bad employee right now. If it is empty, I do not refill it. I can do it. I mean, I did it once, but it wasn’t pretty. More awkward than anything else but instead of potentially making a giant puddle, I am acknowledging and working within my limitations. ;)
Now about the food. For anyone looking for a fun twist on spaghetti, this is a delicious marinara sauce. A heartier, cooked version of my 15-minute garlic basil marinara sauce, I fortified the sauce with red lentils. The finishing raw garlic and basil made the sauce truly special. I swapped the raw zucchini noodles for winter’s veggie noodle: spaghetti squash. While those expecting a noodle replica will be disappointed, those looking for a fun veggie side will be thrilled. A new texture and a fun way to slurp up all the delicious sauce.
So, please tell me: how was your Valentine’s Day? Do you refill the water cooler?? :)
Lentil Marinara Sauce with Spaghetti Squash
1 spaghetti squash, washed
1 tbsp oil of choice
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
28 oz can (or 2x 15 oz cans) diced tomatoes, with juice
3 cups water (or vegetable broth)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp no-salt seasoning, like 21-Spice Salute
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/4 cup julienned fresh basil
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Place rack in centre of oven. (If you are fancy, try smearing the halved squash with garlic, oil and salt and pepper first). Pierce the spaghetti squash multiple times with a fork or knife. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Rotate squash and bake another 30 minutes or until the shell feels soft. Remove from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Once the squash has cooled, cut it in half and remove and discard the seeds and scrape the strands of squash out with a fork.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium pot, heat oil over medium heat. Once hot, add onion and saute until browned, around 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, around 1 minute more. Add tomato paste and cook until beginning to brown.
3. Stir in the undrained tomatoes, water/broth, nutritional yeast, thyme, basil, and no-salt seasoning. Stir in the red lentils, making sure they aren’t clumping together. Raise the heat to high, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat, and allow to simmer for 30 minutes, or until the lentils have cooked through. Add more water if you think the sauce is too thick for your liking.
4. Once the lentils are cooked through, stir in the balsamic vinegar, raw garlic and fresh basil. Season to taste. Serve overtop your cooked spaghetti squash.