Puy lentil bolognese with pasta
A classic ragu, this is great if you want to cut down on your red meat intake – it has all the flavours and textures of a meat ragu.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery sticks, chopped
- 2 tsp picked thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 500g Puy lentils, rinsed and drained
- 400g tin tomatoes
- 1.5l vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 300g pasta
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- grated vegetarian cheese, to serve
- green salad, to serve
1 Heat a large frying pan or flameproof casserole dish until medium hot. Add the olive oil, onions, carrots and celery and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes. You want the veg to soften but not colour – if you like you can put a lid onto the pan to help keep the moisture in and steam the vegetables at the same time.
2 Add the thyme and garlic and cook for another minute, then stir in the tomato purée and turn up the heat. Stir well so that the tomato purée goes all through the vegetables then add the Puy lentils and mix again.
3 Tip in the tinned tomatoes and the vegetable stock, stir well and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cook for 20–25 minutes until the lentils are tender and the sauce has reduced slightly.
4 Add the balsamic vinegar and season to taste.
5 When the sauce has only 15 minutes left to cook, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions until al dente, then drain, reserving some of the cooking water.
6 To serve, remove half the sauce and set aside in a bowl.
7 Tip the drained pasta into the pan with the remaining sauce and mix well, adding the reserved pasta water if needed to loosen the sauce and to coat all the pasta.
8 Serve straightaway with a grating of cheese and perhaps a green salad.