Let’s keep things short and sweet today, shall we? This sauce is good. You will like it. Nom. Nom.
Okay, I’ll give you a little more than that! I wasn’t lying though, this sauce is pretty fantastic. Hearty, flavourful, and decidedly meaty (in the best possible veggie way), it’s great for a casual dinner any night of the week and sure to please even the most ardent meat lovers in your life. The directions look a little long, but it really is fairly simple and quick to pull together.
I usually eat it with brown rice fettucini, but the other night a dear friend came over and I decided to change things up. I had made waffles for breakfast (always a good life decision) and I was feeling like more carbs for dinner, especially with wine, was going to be a bit of overkill, so I substituted zucchini noodles – and actually preferred it! The slight sweetness of the zucchini complements this rich and spicy sauce really well, and the lack of grains means you’ll finish dinner feeling satisfied, but not stuffed.
The leftovers are great over rice with some fresh sprouts and avocado for a super quick lunch (who doesn’t love a rice bowl?) or can be frozen for those nights when you need dinner in a hurry. It freezes extremely well, and it’s such a treat to pull homemade sauce out of the freezer when you’ve got a pasta craving!
Lentil Mushroom Bolognese (serves 4)
~ gluten free, grain-free, vegan option*, soy free, nut free ~
For the sauce
- 1 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed
- 3 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 organic mushroom bouillon cube
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large shallots, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 cup cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
- splash of red wine (optional)
- 5 tbsp tomato paste
- 1-1.5 cups tomato sauce
- sea salt and black pepper
- a handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
- black truffle oil for drizzling (optional)
- 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan (optional)
For the pasta
- 4 zucchini, spiralized (1 per person; if making for yourself with leftovers, just use 1 zucchini)
- your favourite pasta, cooked according to package directions
For the sauce
- Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot and add lentils and bay leaf. Simmer for about 10 minutes then remove from heat. Do not drain.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a braisier (deep frying pan with lid) and sauté garlic and chilli flakes for about 30 seconds, until the garlic just starts to brown.
- Add the shallots and cook for another minute. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the carrots and zucchini. Cook for another 5 minutes, until starting to soften, then add the mushrooms.
- Add a splash of red wine, if using, and sauté for another 3 minutes.
- Add lentils with their cooking water, tomato paste, mushroom bouillon cube, bay leaf, and salt and pepper. Bring to a low simmer and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft and the water is mostly evaporated. There will still be some liquid in the pan.
- Add tomato sauce and, stirring occasionally, simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Adjust for seasoning and heat.
For the zucchini noodles
- Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add a splash of water.
- Cook the zucchini noodles, stirring frequently, until just tender – about 5 minutes.
- Plate the noodles, top with the sauce, and serve with fresh basil, a drizzle of truffle oil (optional) and freshly grated parmesan (optional).
- To make this recipe vegan, simply omit the parmesan in favour of a little extra sea salt. Some nutritional yeast would also be nice.