In my household we aren’t back in the swing of weekly shopping and planning meals since the mayhem that was Christmas, New Year and a three-week-long-and-counting chest infection. So at the moment our meals are based around three points, 1, what do we already have in the fridge/freezer/cupboard, 2, what ingredients could we buy to add to what we already have at a cost/effort minimum and 3, shall we just have chilli again for the 6th day in a row?
Tonight’s meal was based around having spaghetti already in the cupboard and I’ve had lentils on my mind for the last few weeks, so a lentil ragu was born! I think most people would make theirs with celery and carrots as the base but my Husband hates celery with a passion and we already had some red onions and 1 sad-on-it’s-last-legs red pepper in the fridge so the base was decided for me. The only things we had to buy tonight were passata, lentils and parsley; everything else we had knocking about.
Lentils aren’t something that I cook with on a regular basis but I think this might be the start of a new obsession; I can see a lentil shepherds pie in my not too distant future.
Makes enough for 2 enormous or 4 sensible portions.
Serve with spaghetti or with a load of mash and garlicky sautéed greens.
1 Small finely chopped red bell pepper
1 Small finely chopped red onion
2 cloves of finely chopped garlic
Spices: 1 tsp Chilli powder, 1tsp Smoked paprika, 1 tsp black pepper, pinch of salt
1 tin of green lentils
Juice of 1/4 lemon
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbsp Vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 a large jar of passata (or 1 tin chopped tomatoes)
Large handful of chopped parsley
1. Add the pepper and the onion to a large frying pan with a splash of olive oil and fry on medium high for a few minutes until softened and slightly charred.
2. Add the garlic and all of the spices. Fry for another couple of minutes.
Add a tiny bit more oil if it’s dried up to a paste.
3. Add the lentils and stir everything through.
4. Create a well in the middle of the pan and add the sun-dried tomatoes and the lemon juice. Let the tomatoes fry a little on their own before stirring them through.
5. Add the passata, the Balsamic Vinegar and Worcester sauce. Stir through and simmer for 15 ish minutes. Stir every now and again, add a splash of water here and there if it gets too dry. You want the sauce to be thick and rich but you also want it to be loose enough to stir through the spaghetti, coating every strand.
6. Just before service, stir through the parsley. Give it a taste to make sure you’re happy with it. Then add it to your spaghetti and enjoy!
You can totally reduce the cooking time, your sauce might not end up as rich and flavourful but it will still be banging.
Finely chopping is such a ball ache, I know, but roughly chopped onions and peppers just won’t work as well in this dish.
If you don’t have any Balsamic Vinegar, Worcestershire sauce or sun-dried tomatoes that’s fine. Maybe add a dash of red wine, some extra paprika or more lemon to give it a lil something else.
Likewise you could use carrots, celery, mushrooms or white onions instead of bell pepper & red onion if you want. Just go with whatever you have in the fridge and experiment.