SPAGHETTI LENTIL RAGU (VEGAN)
“This hearty and tasty meal is a great example of how traditional Italian food can be adapted to make it healthier. This contemporary version of a classic Italian pasta, lentil with ragu dish is great for vegetarians, vegans and those looking for hearty and healthy meatless meal ideas. Stick to short pasta shapes such as fusilli or penne because they work better with the thick robust sauce.” Jacqui De Bono
- 40 g sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
- 20 ml good olive oil for cooking
- 320 g dried penne pasta
- 300 g dried green or brown lentils
- 1 handful baby plum tomatoes washed and cut in half
- 500 g tomato passata
- 1 medium white onion peeled and finely chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk washed and finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove peeled, sliced and crushed
- 1 level tsp of dried oregano
- 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 litre hot vegetable stock; stock cube or homemade
- salt for pasta and to taste
- black pepper to taste
- ½ glass red wine
- ½ red peperoncino OR ½ tsp peperoncino flakes (optional)
- Cooking the Lentils:
- Place them in a strainer and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. They are ready to cook after rinsing.
- Add 700 ml of the vegetable stock and the lentils to a large deep saucepan or stock pot and stir. Be sure to use a large enough saucepan as the lentils will double or triple in size. Ensure the stock covers the lentils by 2-3 cm. Keep the remaining stock aside for later.
- Cover the pan tightly with a lid, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until they are tender, stirring occasionally. For whole lentils (green and brown), cooking time is typically 15-20 minutes from boiling until tender but not mushy. Do not add salt until the lentils are cooked because the salt will toughen them if added at the beginning of the cooking time. When the lentils are tender drain them through a fine sieve, transfer to a bowl, cover and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a deep-frying pan or skillet add the garlic and the chopped vegetables, stirring occasionally. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veg start to soften and become fork tender.
- Add the halved baby plum tomatoes, the sun-dried tomatoes, a level tsp of dried oregano, and the pepperoncino if using, and mix thoroughly.
- Pour in the red wine, stir and continue to cook to allow the alcohol to evaporate.
- Then add the tomato passata and after 5 minutes add salt and pepper to taste and stir well.
- Add the lentils to the pan mixture. Stir thoroughly, bring to the boil before lowering the heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, adding more stock if needed and stirring occasionally.
- In the meantime, bring a large stock pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again, then add the pasta.
- Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packet.
- If your sauce seems dry add some of the pasta cooking water. Using a slotted spoon put the cooked pasta into the pan with the sauce and mix thoroughly.
- Serve immediately onto warmed plates with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the top.
- Recipe Notes: I would recommend serving this ragu with a whole wheat / grain pasta if you can find some. Whole wheat pasta is healthier than white pasta, because it’s richer with nutrients such as complex carbs, protein, fibre, iron, magnesium, and zinc.