This hearty, flavourful ragù made from lentils, mushrooms, and onions is your solution to giving autumnal comfort food a healthy kick. Vegan-friendly.
How can it be May already?! I feel like I barely even got to know April before it flew past me. I only have two months left here in Australia until I go home to visit my family for a while. Happily, I get two autumns this year! (I’m making up for last year as I didn’t get one at all, boo.)
On that note, it’s gotten quite cold over the past couple weeks here in Canberra. I’m not too fussed. The cold weather means I get to bust out all the wonderful comfort foods that are mandatory for the season, such as my Sweet Heat Chilli and Curried Chicken Soup. I’m looking forward to hearty helpings of homemade mac n’ cheese, crusty breads, casseroles, and of course apple crumbles!
But as tasty as all these dishes are and as much as I want to shove them all into my face at rapid speed, they’re also extremely high calorie and carbtastic. As a side project, I’ve been trying to come up with recipes that are just as delicious and comforting, but aren’t as heavy on the calories. And I think I’ve done that with this dish!
Behold! My very first vegan entrée! Yes, I did say vegan, but don’t let that scare you – it was a happy accident that this dish turned out vegan-friendly. I’m not joking when I say that this ragù fooled my boyfriend. He definitely thought there was meat present. When I told him there wasn’t any beef, he didn’t believe me! So trust me when I say that this ragù will fool even the most carnivorous carnivores in your family.
The lentils lend the protein and fibre to this dish. One cup of lentils has around 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of fibre, making them a powerhouse legume. You could also use wholemeal pasta in place of the white pasta to give yourself an extra dose of fibre (I only had white pasta in the pantry at the time). A good chunk of the flavour in this ragù comes from cooking the lentils in fragrant water. Do not skip adding the herbs to the water! And of course, a dash of red wine helps too. We all know a bit of red wine is good for us, so why not add it to our sauces?
You’ll love this cold-weather dish. You still get the comfort of a hearty pasta with the healthier twist of this flavourful vegetable ragù. Go ahead, give Meatless Monday a shot this week. You won’t be disappointed!
- 1 cup brown or green lentils, rinsed
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ¾ tsp dried chili flakes, divided
- 1 bay leaf
- 250g spirali pasta (or any other pasta)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium Spanish (purple) onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cups (175g) mushrooms, sliced
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
- ½ tsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp dried basil
- ¼ tsp cumin
- ¼ cup good red wine
- 1¼ cup tomato purée (about ¾ of 410g tin)
- salt and pepper, for seasoning
- fresh parsley, for serving
- freshly grated parmesan, for serving (non-vegan option)
- In a medium pot, add the rinsed lentils, thyme, ½ tsp chili flakes, a bit of fresh pepper, and the bay leaf. Cover the lentils with enough water to submerge them and bring to a low simmer. While cooking, check the lentils to make sure they are still covered with water. If the water level is too low, top up the water. Simmer the lentils until they are just slightly underdone, about 15–18 minutes. Drain, remove to a separate bowl, take out the bay leaf, and season with salt. Set aside.
- In a separate, larger pot, bring water to the boil and add your pasta. Cook according to package instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium heat in the empty lentil pot and add the garlic. Sauté until fragrant and then add the onions and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook the onions until they are soft and glistening, then add your mushrooms. When the mushrooms are slightly softened, add the grated carrot, Italian seasoning, basil, cumin, and ¼ tsp dried chili flakes. Once the moisture has evaporated from the vegetables, pour in the red wine, stir, and allow to simmer for 5–7 minutes. Add the reserved lentils, the tomato purée, and season with salt and pepper to your taste. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until the lentils are fully cooked.
- Drain your cooked pasta and add to serving dishes. Top with a couple spoonfuls of the ragù, fresh parsley, and parmesan cheese.
What are some of your favourite comfort foods?