I’m normally not a big new year resolutions kinda girl. I mean, I am forever trying to lose weight so that’s nothing new. However this year, I decided I would go vegetarian for 2018. I’m not going to be incredibly strict- like I will have eggs and would still have a dish that had fish sauce added, but I will not be eating any flesh from animals. It’s not too big of a change for me since I already eat meat very infrequently. However, with this new resolution, I am looking for some vegetarian recipes to satisfy my occasional meat cravings. One meat dish that I sometimes crave is pasta with meat sauce. I decided to try inventing my own lentil-bolognese to substitute for meat sauce.
I loved this sauce recipe. However, my husband was less thrilled with it. He said it tasted good but that he would “never request that I make it.” ha. I will be making this again because I thought it was fabulous. But I had to share all household reviews for full disclosure. I didn’t really get a good picture of this either…Future self reading this post: this tastes good. I know the photos don’t look great and Rajat said he would never request this, but it’s good. Try it once more! This is a very basic sauce, but you could then add any other vegetables you want as well. I think some spinach or sauteed mushrooms would be tasty in this.
(Some late detailing of our NYE activities): This year we spent New Years in Raleigh with family. We went to my husband’s cousin’s house near by and stayed the night. We went to Costco (as strange as this sounds for a NYE activity, there were a hell of a lot of people in Costco), we saw the acorn drop in downtown Raleigh (at 7 PM…the “family” acorn drop), we got takeout from a South Indian place, we played board games. It was so much fun! In the morning, Bhabhi made veg sandwiches for breakfast with chai. It was so hard to go back to real life and work after such a nice holiday. Like most of America though, I was ready to shake-off much of 2017 and start fresh in 2018.
**Makes enough sauce for about 3/4 lb cooked pasta…maybe a full pound if you like less sauce
- 1/2 cup beluga or french lentils, rinsed
- about 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 or 2 ribs of celery, chopped finely
- 1 or 2 carrots, chopped finely
- 1/2 onion, chopped finely
- 2 or 3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
- 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes (good quality Italian ones…I prefer Cento or Pomi)
- 2 or 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp Thyme
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- grated Parmesan or Romano
- In a pot, add lentils, water, 1/2 the chopped onion, carrots, celery, and thyme. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to simmer, covered. Let cook for about 15-20 mins or until lentils are tender and cooked through but still whole and holding their shape. You may need to add more water as you cook them. You want them to stay immersed in water the whole time, but also you don’t need a ton of broth.
- In a pan over medium heat, add olive oil. Add the bay leaf. Add the rest of the onion. Saute for 4-5 minutes, until the onion is tender and translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes more, until the raw garlic smell is gone.
- Add the tomatoes to the pan. Add salt, pepper, oregano, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Saute for 5-10 minutes. Allow the tomatoes to begin to tighten up and reduce.
- Add the lentils and cooking water to pan. I had about 1 or 1 1/2 cups liquid left with the lentils. If you have more than that, you may want to add your liquid slowly to see how much you want. If you have less, add a little extra of your pasta water after cooking the past or just have a tighter sauce.
- Mix the lentils and tomatoes together. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes more or until desired consistency is reached and flavors are well enough combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary (I always add extra oregano because I love it).
- If you are using right away, add a little of your salted pasta water to the sauce. Something about pasta water in a sauce tastes so so right.
- Serve over pasta of your choice, topped with either grated parm or romano cheese. We like to give a splash of EVOO and some cracked black pepper on top as well.