As a vegan it’s a good thing I’m a fan of lentils. In fact, when there’s no dinner leftovers I won’t hesitate to grab some pre-cooked lentils from my freezer. It doesn’t matter if they’re green, black, red or yellow – I’m impartial to any kind of lentil 😉. I’ll let the lentils thaw, add some avocado oil and a few pinches of salt and I’m set for a healthy, quick (and delicious) lunch the next day. I’ve shared a few of my favourite lentil-based recipes here to date, including Loaded Vegan Chili, Vegan Shepherd’s Pie and Curried Red Pepper Soup, but lentils are certainly under-represented here considering they are one of my most valued ingredients!
Today I’m sharing my recipe for a vegan-friendly bolognese sauce. Traditional bolognese sauce is a meat-based sauce that is gently simmered at great length to yield a thicker sauce. Conventional bolognese sauce is also typically served on a bed of broad, flat pasta such as pappardelle or fettuccine. In the spirit of “veganizing” classic bolognese sauce I decided to explore a few twists. To start, I opted to substitute meat for a medley of green, brown and black lentils since they yield a mild, earthy flavour (in contrast red lentils have a nuttier, sweeter flavour). They do take a little longer to cook than the yellow or red variety of lentils, but I find they have a hearty texture and taste deserving of being a meat alternative. In our household “slowly cooked” doesn’t happen, 😂. The kids are starving when I pick them up from school so taking an hour (or more) to let sauce simmer just won’t happen. I needed a bolognese sauce that could be prepared in under 1 hour. I elected to use spaghetti simply because it’s a staple in my pantry and the kids prefer it over the broader variety of noodles. Either, of course, would work here.
Roasting your tomatoes is the “secret” approach to this recipe. The aroma of the tomatoes, fresh garlic and sprigs of rosemary and thyme roasting in the oven sets the tone for what you can expect from this sauce. I used a medley of tomatoes, including Campari, Cherry and Cabernet, but I’m sure any sweet, juicy variety would work well. You’ll be tempted to eat that delicious roasted mixture on it’s own but it is definitely the hero ingredient so you want as much of it in your mixing bowl, lol. To create a thick sauce – without using non-dairy milk or cream – I add savoury cashew-based parmesan cheese to the sauce and it works perfectly. I used dried basil but I would explore using fresh basil next time I make this to see if and how this changes the end result (with fresh basil how can you go wrong, right!)
This recipe reminds me why I love lentils so much and I plan to expand my library of recipes for all of you lentil lovers out there (or convert you if you’re not one….yet, lol).
- 1/Prepare 1 batch of our savoury Parmesan Cheese (link here)
- 2/Cook 3 cups of dry lentils (See product recommendation below)
Tip: Every Sunday I cook large batches of legumes (beans, chickpeas & lentils), toss them in a heavy-duty ziploc bag and let them freeze so they’re easy to thaw and use during the week!
- 3/Prepare 1 batch of roasted tomatoes (see recipe below); preheat oven to 425F.
- 4/Cook pasta as directed
Ingredients: Roasted Tomatoes
- 3-4 lbs tomatoes, halved and/or quartered (I used a medley of Campari, Cherry and Cabernet tomatoes)
3-4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Olive oil (4 Tbsp)
- Few pinches of Himalayan pink salt
- Few pinches of ground pepper
Instructions: Roasted Tomatoes
- 1/Place tomatoes on parchment-lined baking tray. Place unpeeled garlic cloves in between tomatoes, ideally in different areas of the pan. Add a few sprigs each of fresh rosemary and thyme over the tomatoes and garlic. Add a few pinches each of salt and pepper over tomatoes. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over the mixture.
- 2/Roast tomatoes for 30 minutes at 425F. Once done, take out the rosemary and thyme sprigs and squeeze garlic out of its skin. Set the tray of roasted tomatoes aside.
Ingredients: Lentil Bolognese Sauce
- 1 batch of parmesan chese (link here)
- 3 cups cooked lentils
- 1 batch of roasted tomatoes (recipe above)
- Few pinches of dried basil leaves
- Cooked pasta
Instructions: Lentil Bolognese Sauce
- 1/Transfer the roasted tomato mixture into the Thermomix mixing bowl being careful not to lose any of the juice (the best part!) Blend 15 sec/Speed 6. You will now have a puréed mixture.
- 2/Add 3 cups cooked lentils, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and few pinches of dried basil to the TM bowl containing puréed tomatoes. Using a mixing spoon, combine well. (Note: Reserve remaining parmesan cheese for topping)
- 3/Cook the sauce mixture for 5 min/80C/Speed 1 (Reverse blade). Taste and adjust seasoning the sauce as desired.
- 4/Pour a generous amount of lentil bolognese sauce over plated pasta. Top with parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
TruRoots® Sprouted Lentil Trio (green, brown & black lentils)
Village Farms sinfully sweet campari® tomatoes
Village Farms cabernet estate reserve® tomatoes
Note: This recipe was made using a Thermomix appliance, however it can easily be adapted using similar food prep tools (e.g. mutli-function processor, immersion blender etc) or using a more traditional stovetop method.