This lentil ragu is a firm family favourite. It’s quick and easy to make, full of flavour and nutrition (lentils are a powerhouse of fibre, protein, potassium, iron and folate) and it can be frozen in portions to use on busy days. I use this as a ‘base’ recipe but often add or switch the vegetables with the seasons. For example, the carrots can be swapped with swede, beetroot or squash, the mushrooms could be replaced with aubergine or crumbled walnuts. We usually stir it through pasta or layer it up in a lasagne but it also makes a great cottage pie when topped with mash and baked.
You can also tweak the seasoning and turn this Italian-style ragu into a Tex-Mex-style chilli non-carne! Just use chilli, cumin, coriander, bay, oregano and smoked paprika in place of the herbs, and add a drained tin of kidney beans and peppers to the mix too. This adaptable lentil ragu recipe is just thing to add to your repertoire for hearty family meals.
Ingredients (serves 4)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 sticks of celery, diced
approx 10 chestnut mushrooms, diced
1x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1x 400g tin of green lentils, drained
2 bay leaves
1 tsp each: fennel seeds, thyme and oregano
optional splash of red wine…
salt and pepper to taste (roughly a tsp of each)
pasta to serve (100g dried weight per person) we stock a range of organic wheat, wholegrain and gluten free varieties
Gather and prepare your ingredients and find a large pan to cook your ragu in. Get a big pot of water on to boil for the pasta.
Sauté the onion with the olive oil for roughly 6 minutes over a medium-high heat until softening and starting to take on some colour.
Then add the salt, pepper, fennel, oregano, thyme and garlic and stir for a minute to release and wake up the flavours.
4. Add the diced vegetables and sauté for 5-10 minutes until they start to soften and cook in their own juices. Then add the chopped tomatoes and bay leaves.
5. Swirl the juices out of the tin into the pan by filling the tin with water. Then add the drained lentils and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the sauce is rich and delicious. You may need to add a splash of water (or red wine) to loosen the sauce if it is starting to look a bit dry. (This is a good time to get your pasta into the now-boiling water).
6. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed with more salt or pepper. Then stir through the cooked and drained pasta and enjoy! Serve with fresh basil leaves and an extra drizzle of good olive oil.
We all have those days when we really really can’t be bothered to cook. Ordering a takeaway is such a nice treat, but it can take forever to arrive and be quite pricey. So on those days where you have no energy and your family is hangry, there’s always our ready made organic sauces for a bit of a shortcut. Look out for my ‘fast fakeaway’ recipes (if they can even be called recipes) using our range of organic, ready made sauces. I promise they are all super simple and extraordinarily tasty!
First up is this simple spaghetti with lentil ragu. This meal serves 4 or 5 people generously, takes less than 15 minutes and costs under €7 to put together.
Ragu is a rich, slow cooked pasta sauce, traditionally made with meat and served with a wide pasta like pappadelle or tagliatelle. Of course you can also eat it however you like – with polenta or in layers in a lasagne with a béchamel? I love it with rigatoni, those large, ridged tubes of pasta pick up the sauce beautifully. My version uses earthy beetroots, satisfying green lentils and crumbled, rich, fatty walnuts. Delicious! Did you know we sell organic lentils and walnuts in our grocery section? If you have a slow cooker, this is a good one to get going in the morning and enjoy for supper. Simply boil some pasta and you’ve got a hearty, healthy meal ready to go. The ragu also freezes well so I always make a big batch and freeze some for a rainy day. And we are not short of those right now are we?
If you make this recipe please share it with us on our friendly facebook group, and please feel free to share this blog post with your friends and family of course! The illustration above is from my 2021 recipe calendar. While stocks last I’m including a free one with every book order this month. You can add my cookbook to your shopping here. Thank you.
I usually start a ragu with a soffritto. Soffritto is the word for gently cooking diced vegetables (usually onion, celery and carrot) in a little oil until soft to provide a base flavour to build a sauce, soup or stew from. In this case start with 1 diced onion, 1 large diced beetroot (or 2 small – just give it a scrub and don’t bother peeling, also finely chop & add the purple stalks from any leaves should you be lucky enough to have some – save the green leaves to wilt as a side), 3 diced cloves of garlic and a generous handful or two of crumbled walnuts. If you have celery to hand then definitely add a few diced stalks for extra depth of flavour!
Sauté the diced vegetables and nuts in the tbsp of olive oil in a large pot until soft. Then add a mug of green lentils, 2 bay leaves, 3 sprigs of thyme, a glass of red wine & a tin of chopped tomatoes. If you prefer more Italian herbs with this sauce then sub the thyme with some fennel seeds and a pinch of dried oregano. Add a tin of water or veg stock to swirl out the last of the tomatoey juices from the tin. Season with salt and black pepper.
Simmer until the lentils are cooked through then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. This will take a minimum of 30-40 minutes, but if you have time to simmer for longer, the flavours will be richer. This is one of those sauces that is even better the next day. Keep an eye on the liquid levels as the lentils will absorb a lot. Add more water/stock as needed and give the pot a stir every now and then to prevent sticking.
Serve tossed through pasta or in a warm bowl with soft polenta and wilted greens.