Roasted Vegetable & Lentil Bolognese

Is Meatless Monday a “thing” in your house? Are you trying to add more plant-based recipes to your weekly meal plan?  Or are you just frugal and looking for easy ways to use up all the pantry staples you have stocked up on and aren’t entirely sure what to do with?  Never fear!  I have a recipe that will appeal to (hopefully) everyone in your house!  Who doesn’t love a good bowl of pasta anyway?  Unless of course you’re gluten-free, in which case, use your favourite pasta in place of classic spaghetti!  This recipe was created when my 2nd daughter was starting solids and I was looking for a few new ways to bring kid-favourites to the table.  I am generally not a huge proponent of hiding food from my kids, but adding lentils to this sauce instead of meat is almost undetectable by them and comes together really quickly for pennies a plate!  Change the level of spice in your sauce, add other veggies for colour and texture. Sprinkle with your favourite cheese and it’s a hit every time!

prep

10 minutes

Bake time

1 hour Roast

20 minutes simmer

makes

8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup red lentils, soaked and rinsed
  • ½ – ¾ Cup water (or homemade vegetable stock if you make your own)
  • 2 large sweet bell peppers (red & yellow work well)
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 full bulb garlic or 2 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 3 cups tomatoes (at least half should be fresh for roasting)
  • 1 tsp Pesto Sauce Mix (or dried Basil) or 1Tbsp fresh, chopped basil
  • 2 Tbsp Marinara Sauce Mix
  • 1 Tbsp Chimichurri Mix
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1.5 Cups chopped vegetables of choice  (mushrooms, green peppers)
  • 2 Cups coarsely chopped greens such as kale and spinach
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Soak lentils approximately 1 hour.  1 Cup will expand to 2 C when soaked.  This is fine.
  2. Coarsely chop peppers, onion, zucchini and tomatoes. Toss chopped vegetables with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper. 
  3. Spread on a lined baking sheet.  Place full bulb of garlic (skin on) on baking tray as well.
  4. Roast everything  together approximately 1 hour at 325F. Reserve all pan juices.
  5.  While lentils are soaking and vegetables are roasting, chop mushrooms, peppers, fresh herbs and greens.
  6.  Rinse soaked lentils and add to a deep pan.  Cover with the vegetable stock/water and bring to a low boil. 
  7. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until liquid is almost completely absorbed by lentils. Approximately 15 minutes.  Add more water 1Tbsp at a time if necessary as liquid is absorbed.
  8. While lentils are simmering, peel roasted garlic cloves.  Add all roasted vegetables and pan juices to a high powered blender or food processor.  If you are using tinned tomatoes, add them to the blender now too.  Add herbs, chilies and remaining olive oil as well.  Pulse until sauce is smooth.
  9.  When lentils have absorbed most of their water, add coarse chopped vegetables and cook approximately 5 minutes until they begin to get soft. 
  10. Add tomato sauce to pan, stir and bring to a simmer.  Continue to simmer 15-20 minutes to allow herbs to infuse flavour and sauce to reduce. 
  11.  While sauce is simmering, cook your favourite pasta as directed.  If using zucchini noodles, they will likely only need to be tossed with hot sauce to warm.
  12.  5 minutes before you are ready to serve sauce, taste and add salt & pepper if necessary. 
  13. Add chopped leafy greens to sauce and stir in completely.  Allow greens to combine with sauce and soften.  When greens are wilted, sauce is ready to serve!
  14. Pour sauce over your prepared pasta or zucchini noodles.  Garnish with nutritional yeast or cheese if you like!

Notes

If you do not have Marinara Sauce Mix or Chimichurri Sauce mix, use your favourite dried herbs (basil, oregano, chilies etc)

Roasting the tomatoes and peppers with the herbs brings out so much more flavour, but if you are pressed for time, you can use fresh or tinned tomatoes that have been blasted in the blender or food processor.  Simmer 10 minutes longer if using fresh tomatoes.  If using just fresh tomatoes I also recommend at least a few tablespoons of tomatoe paste to really bring out the tomato flavour.