The criteria for a homecooked Valentine’s Day dinner can be somewhat intense, particularly if you’re new to dating someone. It can’t be too saucy, so you and your date don’t run the risk of nervously spilling it. It can’t be too oniony or garlicky, for obvious reasons. And show your date you care about the planet by serving a meat-free meal that will satisfy everyone.
This recipe is like a vegan bolognese, though it’s a little less saucy as spaghetti squash can be somewhat watery, which means it needs a thick sauce that won’t pool at the bottom of the plate. Both the spaghetti squash and sauce can be made in advance and reheated quickly over the stovetop, or you can prepare the entire recipe in under an hour in front of your date. Cue a romantic taste-test moment, where they can tell you “what the sauce needs.”
The wonderful thing about this dish is that it is easily adaptable. If you and your date would prefer actual meat, sub it out. If you’re all about regular spaghetti, use it instead of the squash. If you aren’t parmesan adverse, sprinkle it on. You could even shake on some nutritional yeast to keep things free of animal products. If you’re both into spicy, red pepper flakes work well here (add them in when sauteing the garlic to let the flavor bloom). Additionally, basil can be the garnish instead of parsley. Make it your own and steal a heart this Valentine’s Day.
Spaghetti Squash & Meat-Free Bolognese
1 spaghetti squash, cooked through
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ onion, large diced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ pound (8 oz/250 g) plant-based ground meat, like Beyond Beef Crumbles
3 tablespoons double concentrated tomato paste
½ cup water or vegetable broth, or more to taste
1 teaspoon red wine or red wine vinegar
Parsley, chopped, to garnish
Cut thoroughly cooked spaghetti squash in half, using tongs to secure it if it’s still hot. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and pulp. Use a fork to scrape out the flesh to transform it into spaghetti-like strands. Discard the skin.
Dress spaghetti squash with one tablespoon of olive oil and salt to taste. Keep warm.
In a large saute pan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook onions until caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about two minutes. Move onions and garlic to the edges of the pan to create a well in the center.
Add plant-based ground “meat” and sear on one side, about 4 minutes. Flip and sear on the other side, about 4 minutes. Chop up using a wooden spoon or spatula and continue to saute until cooked through. Combine onion and meat mixture, then once again move to edges of the pan to create a well.
Add tomato paste in the center of the pan, and toast on one side, about one or two minutes. Stir it around and let it cook another one to two minutes. (Toasting the tomato paste will up the savoriness. Plus your date will be impressed with your culinary skills.)
Stir in water, then add red wine or red wine vinegar. Allow sauce to loosen slightly and bubble. Salt to taste.
Divide spaghetti squash between two plates. Top with sauce. Garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 servings.
NUTRITION FACTS (PER SERVING):
Protein 32 g
Total fat 23 g
Saturated fat 2 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Carbs 44 g
Fiber 8 g
Total sugars 19 g
Added sugars 0 g
Sodium 800 mg
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.