Thursday, 10 March 2011

Lentil 'bolognaise'

When our children were little, money was very tight, so we used to eat a lot of vegetarian meals, simply because we couldn't afford meat every day. Now perhaps I'm pedantic, but, to me, there is a difference between meat-free and vegetarian. A proper vegetarian diet is balanced and nutritious. This dish ticks that box.

It is also absolutely delicious. I kid you not.

Once, a friend's little boy came over for a play-date with my kids and I fed them this dish for lunch. He polished his first helping and even had seconds. When his mother came to fetch him later, he proudly told her that he had eaten "yentaws" for lunch. His mother was aghast. Like me, she was on a tight budget, and needed some cheap sources of protein, but she had never been able to get her kids to eat lentils. It was great that I was able to share this recipe with her, since she was a much better cook than I was and had shared several of her recipes with me in the past (some of which you will be getting in due course).

I wish I could tell you that I got this from my great-great-grandmother or something, but, actually, it came out of a magazine I read on the ark while waiting for the waters to subside. Of course, I have adapted it, since... as you do.

250g brown lentils
2 bay leaves
60ml olive oil
2 medium/1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 carrots, finely chopped (or grated)
2 celery stalks, finely sliced
30ml tomato paste
500ml stock (if you're not a veggie you can use meat stock, but if you are, I swear by Vecon)
125g mushrooms, finely chopped
1 medium apple, grated
Pinch oregano

  • Soak the lentils in cold water for a few hours or overnight (this is an optional step - lentils can be cooked without soaking, but it takes a little longer).
  • Drain and place in a saucepan with bay leaves. Cover with water, bring to the boil and cook for about 45 minutes, or until soft(ish).
  • Drain and set aside for now.
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan and saute onion, mushrooms and garlic with the oregano until the onion is translucent. Since garlic cooks much more quickly than onion, you could add the garlic after a couple of minutes, but I tend to chuck it all in together.
  • Add carrots and celery and saute for a further couple of minutes.
  • Add tomato paste and stock and bring to the boil.
  • Add apple and lentils, adjust seasoning to taste and simmer, covered, for about half an hour to 45 minutes.
  • Serve over cooked pasta or a baked potato, preferably with a generous sprinkling of cheese (Cheddar or Parmesan).

1 comment:

  1. Made this on Friday evening and everyone loved it! It was also great on its own without the pasta. Thanks, Karyn!