A hearty bolognese is one of my favourite meals – it’s comfort food at its best. Although bolognese is traditionally made with mince meat, you can completely substitute this with lentils for a rich and super flavourful vegetarian/vegan alternative.
Lentils work BRILLIANTLY in a bolognese sauce from both a nutritional and culinary perspective. Nutritionally, they're rich in the nutrient protein and so serve as a great plant-based (and super cheap) substitute for protein-rich mince. They're also packed with dietary fibre, which together with the protein, make for a really filling and satisfying meal. From a culinary aspect they're perfectly textured to bulk out the sauce, provide that lovely rich heartiness of bolognese we love, and they take upon flavours really well. No matter whether you're vegan/vegetarian/omnivorus, you'll love this!
Lentil Bolognese (vegetarian/vegan friendly)
1 brown onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 carrot, grated
1 courgette, grated
2 handfuls of white button mushrooms, finely sliced
2 tins of pureed tomatoes
1x 400g tin of brown lentils
2 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh basil to cook and garnish, finely chopped
1. Heat a pan with a good drizzle of olive oil. Over a medium-low heat sauté the garlic and onion until the onions are soft and clear - around ten minutes.
2. Add the mushrooms, carrot and courgette and sauté for five minute over a medium heat.
3. Open the can of lentils into a sieve and drain liquid. Give them a good rinse under the tap. Mix into sauce, along with tins of tomato, tomato paste, handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped basil, 1/4 cup water, 1 tsp salt and a few turns of the pepper shaker. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for twenty minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. While sauce us cooking add pasta to boiling water, and cook per packet directions. Drain once cooked.
5. Taste test sauce - adjust for more salt and pepper if neccsary.
6. Serve sauce on top of, or tossed with, cooked spaghetti.