We’re not vegan, or even strictly vegetarian, however, over the last year and a half we’ve been introducing more and more plant-based meals into our weekly line-up.
Dishes like roasted chickpea tacos, pasta with greens, pistachios, and lemon, and mushrooms stuffed with sun dried tomatoes and olives are a lighter, healthier, and filling option.
We especially love vegan lentil Bolognese sauce. Even if you’ve never cooked with lentils before, it really couldn’t be easier! Just sautée, then simmer, a handful of basic ingredients you probably have in your pantry right now. Add the lentils, and 25 minutes later you’ll have a rich and zest sauce that freezes beautifully! We don’t miss the meat when we eat this dish.
- olive oil
- fennel seeds
- dried oregano, basil, and thyme
- salt and pepper
- canned crushed tomatoes
- red wine
- dried red split lentils
- Heat the olive oil in a deep-sided skillet over medium to low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook them together until fragrant and translucent, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.
- Add the fennel seeds, oregano, basil, thyme, salt, and pepper to the onions and garlic. Continue to cook for one minute.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes and dried split red lentils. Simmer the sauce gently on low-medium heat for 20 minutes.
- Add the red wine to the pot and simmer for 5 more minutes or until the lentils are tender. Serve the sauce hot on top of, or tossed with, your favourite cooked pasta.
- Unless you detest the flavour of anise or licorice, don’t skip the fennel seeds! They add a note of pungent flavour, reminiscent of a true Italian meat ragu, you simply can’t get with any other herb or spice.
- Red wine is good, however, Port is better. I always keep a bottle of cheap Port in my pantry for tomato and beef-based recipes. Port adds a deeper, earthier note than wine. If you don’t include alcohol in your diet simply omit.
- You could try substituting other dried lentils, or even canned lentils, however, I have only tested this recipe with dried red split lentils. I like them because they cook quickly and don’t turn to mush in the sauce.
- If you are vegetarian, try adding ½ cup of 35% heavy cream to the sauce when you add the wine or Port. Furthermore, serve it with grated Parmesan on top to take it to the next level!
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Lentil Bolognese Sauce
- measuring cups and spoons or digital kitchen scale
- sharp knife
- cutting board
- can opener
- 12-inch deep-sided skillet or pot
- rubber spatula or wooden spoon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon oregano, dried
- ½ teaspoon basil, dried
- ½ teaspoon thyme, dried
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ground
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- ¼ cup red wine
- ½ cup red lentils, dried, split
- Heat the olive oil in a deep-sided skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic to the pan. Cook until fragrant, and the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Add the fennel seeds, oregano, basil, thyme, salt, and pepper to the onions. Continue to cook for one minute.
- Pour the crushed tomatoes into the pot and hive everything a good stir. Add the lentils and stir again to combine. Simmer the sauce gently, on low-medium heat, for 20 minutes. If the sauce is bubbling hard, reduce the heat a bit. You can also add a lid to the pot, placed on slightly ajar for steam to escape, to prevent splattering.
- Add the red wine to the pot and continue to simmer for 5 minutes more, or until the lentils are tender. Serve the sauce hot on top of, or tossed with, your favourite cooked pasta.