This was one of the first dinner dishes I mastered when I first transitioned to an entirely plant-based diet in 2013. My cooking in the early days was about ‘veganising’ recipes I knew and loved, and although I usually eat much simpler dinner meals now, I do still love this recipe and make it every so often.
This is a great recipe to make if you’ve got meat-eating friends coming round – they won’t miss the meat and it might even inspire them to make a few meat-free meals each week.
Nutritionally, lentils are a good source of protein, iron, zinc and fibre and packed with antioxidants. They’re also really quick to cook and don’t require pre-soaking like other legumes do. Walnuts are a great source of plant-based omega-3s (ALA) and add a lot of flavour too.
(Makes 4 serves)
- 1 cup (200g) dry green lentils
- 1x 800g tin diced tomatoes plus same quantity of water (refill the tin once you’ve added the tomatoes) or 690g jar of tomato passata plus the same quantity of water (refill the glass jar)
- a splash of red wine if you’ve got a bottle open
- 1 brown onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 4 ribs of celery, diced
- a few cloves of garlic, minced
- Salt, pepper and/or cayenne pepper to taste
- ½ cup (62g) raw walnuts, chopped
- To garnish: fresh basil or flat leaf continental parsley and some plant-based parmesan
- About 75g of dry pasta per person (depending on how hungry they are!)
- Add the garlic, onion, carrots and celery to a large frying pan and sauté using a dash of water (in place of oil) as needed to stop things sticking the frying pan. Sauté for a few minutes until soft and fragrant
- Add the tin of diced tomatoes or passata, the water, a splash of red wine, the green lentils and bring to the boil
- Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and cook for 30-45 minutes (or until the lentils are soft and the sauce has reduced)
- While the sauce is simmering away, fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add the pasta and cooking according to the package directions. Drain and set aside
- When the bolognese as cooked, remove from the heat, stir the walnuts through the sauce and season with salt, pepper (and cayenne pepper if desired) to taste
- Serve the pasta in bowls and top with the bolognese sauce, fresh herbs and plant-based parmesan