This recipe started because I have skeptical meat-eating parents. Or, in the words of society: “normal” (what is normal anyway? But before I end up on a random tangent about the judgments of society… let’s get back to the food!) I love to have people round for dinner – (unsurprisingly) I really enjoy cooking for friends and family, sitting round a table together and tucking with with good company! The same goes for my parents – I really like to cook for them, but I’ve not had them over since going plant-based since they’re a bit…. “unsure” of this whole “Vegan thing”. They’re so unsure my mum asked if she could bring meat to the next meal I was planning! Awkward.
With that in mind, I knew that whatever dish I served would have to be aimed at being as “normal” as possible, and stay away from them the slightly more “foreign” foods my partner and I usually enjoy – things like Indian curries, Thai Curries, courgette noodles, Chinese or Japanese foods… and nothing too spicy, or with large amounts of onion or garlic… but not fussy at all!
I admit my first reaction was panic I mean… what’s left, really? I was a little intimidated at the idea of so many criteria! When friends come over I usually whip up a chilli or some dal, vegetables and rice!
So, after a few back and forths with my parents, I decided to go traditional and safe: Spaghetti Bolognese – Vegan style. Obviously it wouldn’t be a traditional mince bolognese! I chose mushroom & lentil bolognese because:
- I can use very little garlic and onion and use herbs and sauces to give the a developed flavour
- Green lentils provide both protein and texture
- Re-hydrated dried soy mince gives a more traditional look and feel
- My spicy lentil pasta sauce was a hit, so I wasn’t starting my recipe development from scratch!
But I don’t have dried lentils
This recipe uses dry lentils – because that’s what I have in. However to speed things up you could easily use cooked lentils from a can instead, so don’t let that little detail put you off!
100g of dried lentils is approximately half a cup. Once cooked, you want a little over a cup of cooked lentils.
Dried… savoury… soy mince?
I have dried soy mince because I can keep it in a jar and just re-hydrate when needed – however it’s the same stuff that you can pick up from the freezer section in supermarkets. If you’re using the frozen stuff, you won’t need the stated water to re hydrate it either.
I recommend not skipping this out, especially if feeding to skeptical meat eaters for a few reasons:
- the look of something not quite so “hippy” (which my lentil-based food has been called before!)
- more protein (making it great for a post-workout dish too)
- an overall more authentic texture
I also use sliced mushrooms – mushrooms are fantastic creations of nature. I think I actually eat them every day at the moment, because I love grabbing one out the fridge, adding a dollop of brown sauce or relish and eating it as-is! They give again, added textures and depth to the flavours of the bolognese sauce. I keep my mushrooms quite chunky when slicing, but feel free to chop them much smaller if you need to hide them: the smaller the pieces, the less texture benefit you’ll get I think, but the taste should still come through.
Meatless Monday: Vegan Mushroom & Lentil Bolognese
Luci Rebecca, Made by Luci
- Prep: 5 minutes
- Cook: 40 minutes
- Total: 45 minutes
- Serves 4
- Calories 221
- 35g onions, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped/minced
- 100g dry green lentils, rinsed
- 500g passata + 1 cup water
- 200g mushrooms, chopped into thick slices
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 75g savoury soya mince, mixed with 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 40g sundried tomatoes, diced
- salt and pepper
- dried spaghetti
- to serve (optional)
- fresh basil, chopped
- nutritional yeast
- grated cheese
- Add the diced onion and chopped garlic to a saucepan with some water and cook until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add more water if the pan gets too dry (or cook with oil if that's your preference).
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and give a good stir. Bring to a simmer and cook until the lentils are cooked - about 30 minutes.
- During this time, cook your spaghetti according to packet instructions and drain - typically it takes no longer than 10 minutes, so start about 20 minutes into the simmer.
- Drain the spaghetti and divide between four bowls, then top each with a portion of the bolognese.
- Optional but delicious - sprinkle with nutritional yeast, or vegan cheese, and chopped fresh basil
Nutritional and calorie information is calculated without spaghetti or toppings