It is amazing when I serve this how many people don’t realise that the traditional minced beef has been substituted for lentils in this bolognaise recipe. Lentils, by comparison to other legumes are a rich source of compounds called polyphenols, which are believed to aid the prevention of heart disease. This recipe uses brown lentils, which are readily available, tinned, at your supermarket. You can serve with any pasta, but if you are looking for a healthier option, try courgetti spaghetti which adds nutrition, colour and a fresh zing to this dish.
Serves 4 (extra can be frozen if cooking for one). Ready in <60 minutes but is better slow cooked for maximum flavour.
- 1 tin of brown lentils (drained)
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 large cloves garlic (peeled and minced)
- 1 large onion / 2 medium onions (finely chopped)
- 1 large carrot/ 2 medium carrots (grated)
- 2 stalks of celery (finely chopped, including leaves)
- 4 cups (1 litre) vegetable stock (or water if you don’t have any stock, you can use chicken or beef if you are not vegetarian)
- a good grating of fresh nutmeg (using a microplane / fine grater) or 1 tsp dried nutmeg
- 2 – 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp oregano / rosemary / thyme (dried mixed herbs are good)
- 2 courgette (zucchini) (1 if cooking for 1)
- Lemon juice (optional)
In a heavy bottomed pan (suitable for slow cooking), heat the olive oil, add the onion and garlic and cook gently until soft.
Add the carrot and celery, mix together and cook gently for 10 – 15 minutes until soft.
Add the lentils, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 cups of stock, nutmeg and dried herbs and season. Turn down the heat and simmer with the lid off for 30 minutes. If it is getting too dry, add some more stock or water, this needs to be saucy. Put the lid on and simmer for a further 20 minutes. You can do this on the stove top, or in a low oven (160 degrees C) or in a slow cooker. It can simmer away for a couple of hours to intensify the flavour. Taste for seasoning towards the end.
While the bolognaise is simmering, heat bring the remaining stock to the boil in a saucepan. Trim the ends off your courgette and using either a spiralizer or a peeler, create long strips of the vegetable. About 5 minutes before you want to serve, poach the courgette in the stock for just a few minutes. Drain, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, a drizzle of lemon juice and serve with the lentil bolognaise. If you are eating dairy, you can shave some parmesan cheese to finish. Delish!
Cover image by Kiian Oksana
Courgetti image Oleksandra Naumenko