A rich, three cheese sauce coats earthy lentils and sweet roasted peppers, then it seeps down into strands of spaghetti squash “noodles” for an alfredo pasta feel. Crispy, buttered bread crumbs seal the deal!
- 1 1/2 C French green lentils
- 2 1/2 t kosher salt
- 2 red bell peppers (or 3/4 C diced roasted red peppers)
- 1 1/2 T olive oil
- 2 small to medium spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
- 1 1/2 t ground black and/or white pepper
- 2 C milk or cream (I used 1 C whole milk + 1 C hemp milk)
- 3 1/2 T butter, divided
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped (about 1/4 C)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 T all purpose flour
- 2 C shredded fontina or Gruyere cheese
- 2 C shredded white cheddar cheese
- 1/4 C crumbled blue cheese (optional)
- 1 C fresh or dried bread crumbs
- 1 T chopped parsley
- Combine lentils, 2 3/4 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until lentils are edibly tender but hold their shape. Drain, rinse in cold water, and set aside.
- Preheat broiler (low setting, if there’s an option) and move oven rack 8 to 12 inches from heat. Rub outside of peppers in a thin coat of olive oil and place on their sides on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil about 13 minutes, until blackened on one side. Turn peppers 90 degrees and broil another 5 minutes. Repeat one or two more times, until peppers are blackened all over and very soft. Transfer to a glass mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap, a dish towel, and a dinner plate, to seal in heat. After 15 minutes, peel, stem, and seed the pepper by hand. Do not run under water (it eliminates the smoky flavor). Chop into 1/4″ pieces and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 425 (F) and move rack to middle position. Generously oil exposed flesh of squash halves and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place face down on a rimmed baking sheet and add a tablespoon of water. Roast squash 25 to 30 minutes (or more, depending on size) until tender when squeezed with tongs, but not collapsing, and browned on cut flesh. Remove from oven and turn squash face up. When slightly cooled, transfer to a baking dish with sides high enough to hold the squash upright. Use a fork to gently loosen most of the strands of squash, without disturbing the browned edges. Turn oven down to 375.
- Heat milk gradually in a small saucepan until it just begins to simmer. Turn off heat. Clean the saucepan used to cook the lentils. In it, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium, then add shallot and garlic and cook until softened but not browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon about 4 minutes, turning down the heat if the mixture bubbles vigorously, starts to brown, or sticks to the pan. Switch to a whisk, and carefully pour milk into the flour mixture while whisking, mixing well. Increase heat to medium high and bring to a simmer while whisking. Then, switch back to the wooden spoon and simmer gently for about 5 minutes, until sauce has thickened slightly. Turn off heat and whisk in cheese, half at a time, until melted. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
- In a mixing bowl, combine lentils and half the cheese sauce. Keep adding cheese sauce until desired ratio is reached. Fold in red peppers, being gentle to avoid turning the mixture orange from the pepper liquid. Spoon lentils and cheese into the prepared squash, piling it as high as it will safely go.
- Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and combine in a small bowl with the breadcrumbs, parsley, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Top each squash with a fourth of the mixture, pressing it down to help it adhere. Bake (at 375) for about 25 minutes, until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Serve warm.
Extra cheese sauce keeps in the refrigerator for a few days, or months in the freezer. It’s awesome mixed with pasta and peas for mac and cheese!
If you use vegetarian cheese, the recipe is vegetarian.
- Prep Time: 35 mins
- Cook Time: 90 mins
- Category: Entree
- Cuisine: Vegetarian