I love the versatility of this dish and it’s great to have an alternative to one of our favourite Italian meals ragu or spaghetti bolognese. It cooks really fast as the lentils soak up the liquid in the sauce within half an hour so it’s fantastic for an evening meal in the week when you don’t have loads of time to wait for things to cook for hours.
This recipe serves two adults and two children as an accompaniment to pasta for one meal with at least three portions left over for other meals. I served this with brown rice spaghetti to make it a gluten-free vegan meal but you can use normal wheat pasta.
I used nutritional yeast to give the sauce more flavour, if you don’t have this and are not avoiding dairy or dairy intolerant you can stir in some parmesan cheese before serving.
I had it the next day for lunch with sweet potato wedges and green vegetables and then the next day for dinner with some smoked salmon fillets and broccoli.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion
1 large carrot
1 stick celery
1 courgette (optional)
2 cloves garlic
250g red lentils
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 carton (200g) passata
1 tbsp tomato puree
500ml vegetable stock
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
Handful of fresh basil leaves
Salt & pepper
Warm a large, deep frying pan on the hob and add the oil.
Chop the onion, celery, carrot and courgette if using and add to the pan. Stir and leave to cook on a low heat for 10 minutes with the lid on.
Add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes. Wash the lentils in a sieve under cold water until the water runs clear and add to the pan, stir before adding all of the rest of the ingredients apart from the basil and salt and pepper.
Put on the lid and leave to simmer on a low heat until the lentils have soaked up all the liquid (approximately 30 minutes).
If serving with pasta, allow 100g per adult / 50g per child and cook as per the packet instructions.
Before serving, tear and stir in most of the basil leaves and season to taste with salt and pepper. If you want to give the sauce a bit of a kick you could also add some cayenne pepper.
If you love lentils, why not try my Lentil & Quinoa Salad?