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Jessie and Lennie Ware’s Aubergine and Puy Lentil Bolognese

by Jessie Ware, Lennie Ware from Table Manners: The Cookbook

A tasty vegetarian or vegan alternative to spaghetti bolognese, this recipe from Jessie and Lennie Ware is made with aubergines, Puy lentils, and red wine.

From the book

Jessie Ware, Lennie Ware


My mother, who rolls her eyes every time I offer a vegetarian alternative, had to text me after the Paloma Faith podcast to admit that ‘the bolognese was delicious, darling’. I salute the brilliant vegetarian chef Anna Jones for putting dates in her recipe and blending half the lentils at the end for a perfect texture. This is inspired by Anna Jones’ lentil ragu and is a tasty vegan alternative to spag bol.

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4 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
3 aubergines, cut into 2cm dice
1 white onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp tomato purée
¼ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground coriander
1 cinnamon stick
1 Medjool date, chopped
200g Puy lentils, well rinsed
400g tin chopped tomatoes
200ml red wine (if making for vegans, use vegan red wine)
400ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp freshly chopped oregano
salt and pepper
grated cheese (Parmesan or a vegan or vegetarian alternative)


Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over a medium–high heat and add the red onion with a good pinch of salt. Fry for 2–3 minutes until just softened, then add the aubergines and another pinch of salt. Fry for about 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until golden and caramelised. Tip the aubergine and onion out of the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan over a medium heat and gently fry the finely chopped onion, celery and carrot for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and fry for another couple of minutes, then add the tomato purée and spices and cook, stirring, for another minute.

Add the chopped date, lentils, tomatoes, wine, stock and oregano. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 25 minutes, then remove the lid and simmer for another 20 minutes to allow the excess liquid to evaporate. After this time, the lentils should be completely tender, but if not, add a splash of water and continue to simmer gently until they are.

Using a hand blender, pulse about half of the mixture: you can do this in the pan. This will thicken up the mixture while also leaving some chunkier bits. You may need to add a splash of water to loosen the bolognese. Stir in the reserved onion and aubergine, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve with pasta of your choice and grated cheese.

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From the book: Table Manners: The Cookbook

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