Those who know me will know that pasta is one of the dishes I could never live without.
Perhaps I’m a carb fiend because the other foods that are my weekly (daily, in fact!) staples are pizza and chocolate. For me, though, pasta is the ultimate comfort food.
Whenever I feel a little bit down, in need of a boost, or just some general cheering up – and, let’s face it, most of us can do with that on a cold, wet January evening! – pasta is always my go-to.
Over the last few months, I’ve been making a real effort to get the boys to eat a more plant-based diet. With the exception of Zayn (who pretty much lives off cheese!), they are all meat lovers. Yet, I wanted to introduce different foods to their diet to shake up their gut bacteria a little – more nutritious and high in fibre, healthier, and also cheaper on the purse strings!
Since I first made it, this Lentil & Mushroom Bolognese has become a real family favourite.
Amazingly, thanks to the mushrooms and lentils, it tastes incredibly meaty, without the need for any animal products at all. Plus, it’s high in fibre, plant proteins and even vitamin D (mushrooms are one of the few natural sources of vitamin D).
And, let’s face it, when you have a rich tomato sauce bubbling away on the hob and a bowl , who needs meat anyway?!
This is also a great recipe for those on a budget and can genuinely be made for just a few pounds. Not all tasty meals have to be expensive and contain meat, you know!
I like to serve my lentil and mushroom bolognese with my favourite gluten-free pasta and spaghetti, Rizopia, which is made from just brown rice and water. It is also utterly delicious, and I promise you won’t miss traditional pasta at all!
However, you can serve this with whichever pasta takes your fancy!
What are your favourite pasta dishes? Would you like me to recreate any? Let me know by commenting below!
Lentil & Mushroom Bolognese
- Serves 4-6
- One large onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1.5 tbsp tomato puree
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 stick celery, chopped
- 1 courgette, chopped
- 1 red pepper, de-seeded and sliced
- 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tins chopped tomatoes (the best quality you can afford)
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock or red wine (if using veg stock, omit the vegetable stock cube later on)
- 2 tbsp oat cream or knob of vegan butter (optional but recommended)
- 1 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 1 tsp coconut sugar or 1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups green lentils, soaked and drained
- 1 x 300g punnet mushrooms, chopped
- Large handful fresh basil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup pasta cooking water
- 450g cooked Rizopia gluten-free spaghetti, to serve
- Lemon juice and sprinkle of chilli flakes and Nutritional Yeast, to serve (optional)
- Heat some oil in a pan. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, stirring often. Add in the garlic and cook until the onion is translucent.
- Add in the celery, carrots, red pepper, rosemary, bay leaves and tomato puree and cook for another minute or so. Next, tip in the chopped tomatoes, wine, fresh tomatoes, oat cream / butter, Nutritional Yeast, vegetable stock cube and coconut sugar / lemon, if using. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened (around 30 minutes), stirring every so often. Remove bay leaves, then place in the blended and blitz smooth.
- Pour the sauce back into the pan and add the bay leaves once more. Add in the drained lentils and the mushrooms (add in a splash of water if needed) and cook on a low to medium heat until rich, thick and tomatoey and the lentils have softened but still have a little bite (I cooked mine for another 30 minutes). Add a splash more water if needed, but ensure you stir often to prevent it from catching.
- In the meantime, cook your spaghetti according to packet instructions.
- Stir 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water through your bolognese. Then stir the basil leaves through and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour into bowls with the cooked spaghetti, then sprinkle over Nutritional Yeast and chilli flakes, if using. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and enjoy immediately.