Lentil Bolognese is a store-cupboard staple. Lentils are full of nutrients, most notably fibre, protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc and potassium. These humble and inexpensive seeds are well worth including in your diet regularly, and they make a great mince meat substitute.
3 tbsp olive oil
2 white onions, diced
5 cloves of garlic, diced
2 bay leaves
3 carrots, diced
1 tbsp chopped dried mushrooms
200g dried lentils (a mix of green/red/brown is nice for different textures)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 glass red wine
salt and black pepper to taste
pasta and nutritional yeast to serve
Sauté the onion, garlic and bay in the olive oil over a medium high heat until it’s soft and golden.
Add the carrots, mushrooms, lentils, vinegar and tomatoes. Stir then cover with the water and season well.
Simmer until the sauce is rich and thick and the lentils are cooked through. Test them after 15 minutes and add more water if necessary.
Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper as you like. Then serve.
Stir some of the sauce through the drained spaghetti and loosen it with a little reserved pasta water. Then serve in bowls with extra sauce on top. Finish with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast flakes for a salty, cheesy topping.
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.