I grew up thinking that spaghetti Bolognese was made with a lentil base instead of ground beef. I am glad that my parents introduced this healthier bolognese alternative to my taste palate at an early age as I think it would have been more difficult transitioning away from the traditional ground beef. To this day I am still not a huge fan of meat in my pasta sauce. You might be wondering why I'm so happy about loving lentils vs meat in my pasta sauce, when meat is a great protein and admittedly quite tasty? Well lentils, like any legume, not only taste amazing but are a great source of protein in addition to being low in fat, full of fibre, vitamins and minerals. If you are used to ground beef in your pasta sauce, this recipe may take some time to get used to - but I guarantee this will become a household favourite if you give it a chance!
I always see recipes as being flexible, and this sauce is no exception. You can play around with the ingredients to suit your taste and texture preferences. Often I do not measure my spices, I will add varying amounts and sometimes throw in some extra chilli flakes for a bit of kick! Try substituting and/or adding new ingredients to the mix like carrots and/or peppers. If you like a smoother texture you can also puree the sauce with a hand blender (also known as an emersion blender), or leave thick and chunky if you are in a hurry! Enjoy!
1 Tbsp of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp of dried: thyme, rosemary, oregano, pepper
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups of red lentils
2 cans of tomatoes (no added salt)
1 1/2 cup of water
Dice onion and garlic and measure out spices (or, if you like, you can add them to the pot by eye). In a large pot, heat olive oil, add the minced onion, garlic, spices and bay leaf. Stir. Sautee onions until translucent and slightly browned about 2 minutes. Add lentils, tomatoes and water to the pot. Stir. Put the lid on the pot and allow sauce to simmer for an hour (some additional time may be needed to thicken the sauce further).
After an half-an-hour to an hour give your sauce a stir and a test taste, then add salt as needed.
If you are making some pasta to accompany the sauce, cook this now. Put a pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Use any pasta you would like, and follow the cooking instructions on the box.
Garnish with some fresh parsley and parmesan cheese, if available.