Lentil Spaghetti Bolognese
Lentil spaghetti bolognese is vegan and nutritious. Plus lentils are cheaper even than the cheapest mince, not to mention better for you and the environment. I have mostly followed Nicky Clinch’s recipe for this one, although one could follow any spaghetti bolognese recipe and simply use cooked lentils instead of mince. I have combined it with shiitake “bacon” from Blissful Basil. If you don’t like mushrooms, I encourage you to try it anyway. Neither my daughter nor my partner like mushrooms in general, but they do like shiitake (which are firmer than other mushrooms) done like this, nice and crispy, and with smoky salty flavour.
- 1/2 cup uncooked puy, brown or green lentils, soaked for minimum of 30 minutes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 white onion
- 50g pumpkin (such as onion squash, aka kabocha) or carrot
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 4 fresh tomatoes
- 200 g canned chopped tomatoes (1/2 can)
- 1 tbsp oil (olive or cold pressed sunflower)
- 1 tbsp tamari or shoyu (if not GF)
- 1 tsp brown rice syrup or barley malt (if not GF)
- sea salt for cooking the spaghetti
- 160 g brown rice spaghetti
- 1 small punnet of shiitake mushrooms (120 g or so)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- pinch of smoked salt (or plain sea salt if not available)
- freshly ground black pepper
- vegan parmesan (optional)
- parsley or basil (optional)
- First cook the lentils. Drain the soaking water and add fresh cold water for cooking. Add the bayleaf and bring to boil. Do not add salt. Bring down the heat and cook until tender (around 30 minutes).
- Prepare all the veg in the meantime, chopping the onion, mincing the garlic and cutting the squash (or carrot) and tomatoes into smaller cubes. Slice the shiitake mushrooms.
- Preheat oven to 180° C (350° F). Line a baking tray with baking paper. Put the mushrooms on the lined tray and rub the oil and seasoning into them. Then spread them in a single layer and put in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. Be careful not to burn them.
- Heat the oil in a pan, and add the onion with a pinch of salt. Cook for a few minutes until translucent.
- Add the garlic and squash (or carrot) and another pinch of salt. Cook for a few more minutes.
- Add the chopped fresh tomatoes and another pinch of salt and cook for another few minutes.
- Add the canned tomatoes and the cooked lentils, and simmer with the lid on until all veg is tender.
- In the meantime cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water according to the instructions on the pack.
- Once the sauce is cooked, check the final seasoning. Add the soy sauce and brown rice syrup or other sweetener of your choice.
- Serve the spaghetti topped with vegan parmesan, the shiitake bacon and chopped herbs.
- For vegan parmesan: I sometimes buy Violife Prosociano, or various handcrafted vegan parmesans from fairs and markets. However, you can easily make your own by blitzing 1/4 cup hemp hearts or pumpkin seeds, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, and 1/4 tsp sea salt in a food processor. This mixture can be refrigerated for a few weeks. Variations on this are using nuts instead of seeds, and adding 1/2 tsp of dried herbs and a pinch of garlic powder.