A hearty bolognese is one of my favourite meals – it’s comfort food at its best, especially in the middle of chilly Auckland winter. Although bolognese is traditionally made with mince meat, you can substitute 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 high in protein and serve as a great plant-based (and super cheap) substitute for mince. They're also packed with dietary fibre, which together with the protein helps make this a really filling and satisfying meal. From a culinary aspect they're perfectly textured to bulk out the sauce and provide that lovely rich heartiness of bolognese, and they take upon flavours really well too. No matter whether you're vegan/vegetarian/omnivorus, you'll love this!
Lentil Bolognese (vegetarian/vegan)
1 tbsp oil
1 brown onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 tins of pureed tomatoes
1x 400g tin of brown lentils
1 small pottle of tomato paste (around 140g)
1 carrot, grated
1 courgette, grated
2 big handfuls of white button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh basil/parsley to cook and garnish, finely chopped
1. Heat a pan with the oil. Stir-fry garlic and onion, until the onions are soft and clear.
2. Add the mushrooms and saute for five minutes. Add the carrot and courgette and cook for a further few minutes.
4. Add the tins of tomato and tomato paste and mix well. Open the can of lentils and drain liquid. Give them a good rinse under the tap and then add to the sauce. Mix again. Sprinkle over the dried oregano and a small handful of chopped parsley/basil.
5. Turn up the heat up until the sauce begins to boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken as it cooks. If it gets too stiff add ¼ cup water and mix well.
5. Serve on top of spaghetti or courgette noodles.