RECIPE: Lentil Bolognese Sauce

This recipe links to the post ‘Cleaning Up The Classics Part II

Serves 4-6

  • 250g lentils verdes or Puy lentils
  • 60g red lentils
  • 1 large leek
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1 large courgette
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms
  • 400g tinned plum tomatoes
  • 1-1 1/2 litres organic vegetable stock (or chicken if not keeping vegetarian)
  • a few good sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 100g kalamata olives
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • coconut oil

Optional to serve: chopped fresh parsley and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast or Parmesan if not dairy free

 

  1. Place your lentils verdes in a large glass bowl and cover with double their quantity of filtered water and leave to soak for 2 hours. Drain and rinse well, then add to a pan with 2 cups of fresh water, bring to a boil then turn down to a very gentle simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. You don’t want them to be completely cooked you are looking for the crunchy side of al dente. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.
  2. Whilst the lentils are cooking prep the rest of your ingredients. Finely slice the leek and dice the celery, carrot, courgette and mushrooms. Grate or mince your garlic.
  3. Place a large pan to heat on a medium flame, add a teaspoon of coconut oil and once melted pop in your leek. Leave to gently sweat for 5-6 minutes until softened then add your celery, carrot, courgette and mushrooms. Continue to cook for a further 10 minutes stirring occasionally, then add your finely minced garlic, season with a few grinds of black pepper and the fresh thyme and bay leaves.
  4. Cook together for 3-4 minutes to release the oils from the herbs then add in the red lentils and mix to coat in all the wonderful flavours. Add the plum tomatoes and use a wooden spoon to break up slightly (rinse the tin with a splash of water to get all the bits out). Leave to simmer gently for 5 minutes so the lentils begin to absorb some of the mixture.
  5. Begin by adding 1 litre of your stock with the lentils verdes and mix together, you will be reducing it for a while to intensify the flavours so it should be quite liquid at this point, if it isn’t add the remaining 500ml of stock too. Bring the sauce to a very gentle simmer and leave to cook uncovered for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally but with care, you want the red lentils to break up to add a delicious thick, richness to the sauce but the lentils verdes to remain intact. If you find that your sauce is becoming dry use the cooking liquid from the lentils to loosen it.
  6. De-stone your kalamata olives and chop into smallish pieces but not so they will disappear into the mix. Once your sauce is reduced turn the heat off and stir them through. This is best left to go cold so everything intensifies, then remove your bay leaves and thymes sprigs and test the seasoning. I find it is usually unnecessary to add salt as this is provided by the olives but some more freshly ground black pepper never goes amiss.
  7. Serve with your choice of whole grain/gluten free pasta or my personal favourite carrot or sweet potato noodles*. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and your preferred cheese/nutritional yeast if you wish.

 

To make vegetable noodles:

Use a julienne peeler, regular veggie peeler or spiralizer to make strips. Boil a large pan of water and quickly dump all of your noodles in for 2 minutes, drain and allow to steam in the sieve for a couple of minutes to prevent watering down your sauce then mix through and serve like regular pasta.

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