This pasta sauce is so Tasty and Rich, that your family will be confused when you tell them that it´s just Lentils!
Who doesn´t love a rich Pasta Bolognese??? What if you could have a similar flavour by using a vegan recipe that is much easier for the body to digest?
Even for Vegans this dish can be extremely attractive. Many people use Minced Soy, Tofu or Seitan for their recipes, but I would never suggest that, as these proteins are highly processed and with time they can easily affect the hormones or create new allergies.
Of course, Japanese people eat Soy and Tofu and are known for their long lifespan, but they often prefer fermented products and they always eat it in small quantities. Plus, their traditional cuisine does not include dairy, which is a big reason for their great health, but that is a story for another chapter.
And here comes the Lentil! This Legume is probably my favourite ingredient (until now) when I need to make a vegan dish that is usually made with minced meat (check my Vegetarian/Vegan Burgers).
The purpose of this dish is not to invent something that has the exact flavour of minced meat, but to make a naturally healthier dish, which can be equally tasty in it´s own unique way, has a similar flavour to the original Bolognese recipe and that can be enjoyed by everyone (vegan or not)!
Lentils: They are the fruits or seeds of a family of plants called Fabaceae. They are a rich source of fiber and B vitamins, as well a great replacement for meat as a source of vegetarian protein. They are very beneficial for the colon health and for the heart. It´s important to eat them well cooked, because when raw they contain anti-nutrients which block the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body. But do not worry, when they are cooked the anti-nutrients are destroyed.
Tomato: It is full of Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant which is known for reducing your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, macular degeneration and even sunburn. It's also known for multiplying itself and being more effective when the tomato is cooked! Also, tomatoes have high amounts of Beta-Carotene.
Red Wine: A great ingredient for cooking, as it gives an incredible aroma. As long as you use Dry wine, you only get the benefits because the alcohol is evaporated and you get no sugar from it.
Spices/Herbs: They give flavour and have a strong Anti-inflammantory action in the body (Chinese medicine is full of them).
Pasta: Depending on your taste and sensitivities, you may choose a normal wholegrain pasta, a gluten-free option such as Oat or Buckwheat Pasta, pasta made from legume flour (available in organic stores), or for even lighter results you can make zucchini noodles (sliced zucchini in the form of pasta). In general, the combination of grains and legumes are a great option for getting a complete protein, as the protein of Legumes has different amino acids that the one in Grains, hence the combination of these two makes a protein with a complete amino acid profile.
Nutritional Yeast: Used as a natural alternative to cheese topping, it has a great cheesy flavour and it is a source of B Vitamins, Minerals and Complete Protein. It does not create any autoimmune diseases, but studies suggest that it should be avoided from people who already have autoimmune diseases (like Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, etc.).
In the photos I´m using buckwheat pasta.
Total time needed: 40-60m
- 1 bottle of Red Dry Wine
- 1 can of Tomato Sauce or Peeled Pomodoro Tomatoes
- 400g of Boiled and Drained Lentils (use more if you want a thicker sauce)
- 2 cloves of Garlic
- 1-2 Onions
- 1 teaspoon natural salt (I use pink salt) for the sauce and 1 tablespoon for boiling the pasta
- Spices/Herbs that you like: I used Paprika, Laurel, Black Pepper, Nutmeg and lots of Basil
- Pasta of your choice: for Gluten-Free use Buckwheat, Oat or Legume Pasta
- Optional: Half teaspoon Molasses or Honey, a chopped Carrot or a Green Pepper, Nutritional Yeast (alternative to grated cheese topping, not the same with Beer Yeast)
1. In a pan add 3-4 tablespoons of water, your onions and garlic chopped in pieces and the molasses. I add water and no oil to avoid frying.
2. Let it "fry" until it becomes soft and make sure you add water if it evaporates but needs more time.
3. Add your dry Herbs/Spices and the carrot or green pepper (if you have). Any fresh herbs (like Basil) add them in step 6 or after.
4. Add your Lentils, which can be whole or pressed to have a more creamy texture.
5. Let it cook for some minutes and when it seems like there is not water left, add 1 cup of Red Dry Wine.
6. Again let it cook for 3-4 minutes and then add the rest of your sauce ingredients. Decrease the heat to medium fire and let it cook until the sauce has the desired thick texture.
7. In the meantime you may cook your pasta according to the instructions of the package.
8. When the pasta is ready I like to put it in the pan with the sauce and cook it all together just for a few seconds, so that it absorbs some of the sauce. But if you like the sauce to be more visible, just add it directly in the plate on top of your pasta.
9. You may use some Nutritional Yeast as an alternative to grated cheese (do not confuse it with Beer Yeast, which has a more bitter flavour).
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