This is the perfect hearty meal for those rainy and cold evenings. For anyone looking to gradually reduce their meat intake, this is the recipe for you. It has so much texture, richness and meatiness from the mushrooms and sauce. However, it is packed with plant protein (18g per cup of cooked lentils), fibre and loads of veggies.
Spaghetti Bolognese is a firm favourite in UK households but is usually devoid of vegetables and high in processed meat from the beef mince. In 2015, the World Health Organisation classified processed meat as a Class One carcinogen. That puts it in the same league as asbestos and tobacco.
So move over Spag Bol. My Red Lentil Ragù is what you’ve been waiting for. It is cheap to make, freezes well and is a great way to get children to eat their veggies. I love having it with wholewheat spaghetti or brown rice spaghetti but it is also fabulous with lots of steamed veggies.
- spaghetti (wholewheat or spelt) gluten free option
- 1 cup split red lentils
- 1 tsp olive oil swap for water/veggie stock for oil free
- 1 red onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 red chilli
- 6-8 chestnut mushrooms
- 1 red bell pepper
- 3 carrots
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup veggie broth
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 tsp mixed Italian herbs thyme, oregano, basil
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- Pinch of sugar
- ½ tsp black pepper
- To garnish: nutritional yeast fresh basil, cracked black pepper
- Wash the lentils thoroughly and drain, add to pot with 4 cups of water. Cook on a medium heat for around 15 minutes until it is just cooked. Stir once in a while. You can also swap this for pre-cooked red lentils to save time.
- Prepare the spaghetti or pasta according to instructions on the packet. Drain and set aside. If gluten free, using a gluten free pasta such as brown rice pasta.
- Dice the carrots, mushrooms and red bell pepper. Remember you’re trying to recreate a ragu so you want the pieces to be relatively small.
- Add the oil to a pan, along with the chopped onion and sauté for a couple of minutes before adding the chilli and garlic. After another couple of minutes, add the carrots, mushrooms and red bell pepper and mix in. Then add the spices (herbs, onion powder and black pepper) and coat well.
- Add the can of tomatoes along with a cup of veggie stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the tomato paste and a pinch of sugar. You can also add a splash of red wine for deeper flavour at this point. Add in a teaspoon of salt.
- Add in the cooked lentils and add a splash of water if it is too thick. Taste and adjust herbs and spices at this point if needed.
- To serve, add in some sprigs of fresh basil and some nutritional yeast or vegan cheese. While best with spaghetti, this also tastes fantastic on it’s own or with a green salad.