Nothing like the sunshine & our so-far short-lived 'heatwave' here in Dublin taking a little dip for the cooking-vibes to get a kick-start.
I actually made this recipe last weekend & shared some with a friend who requested the recipe so here you go Janette - happy cooking! So instead, this weekend, I’ll use up my stash of frozen bananas & bake my not-Banana-bread non-fruit cake loaf (coming your way soon Kate!).
The meat-free recipe below is very easy to make, it’s chock full of veggie, herb & plant protein goodness & hits the 'mm mmm mmmm' taste-buds spot too. I make this quantity below or even a bigger quantity & then freeze it in takeaway containers my neighbours kindly share with me (I’m not a takeaway-gal myself but like to repurpose containers if they’re a-begging!) . Batch-cooking is a game-changer Yogis; well worth the 'effort-now' for the 'little-effort' ahead in the future. I am always so so glad to dip into the freezer-drawers here at home & find that I have this 'to-hand' when famished & it feels like the cupboard is bare...
I also make this quite frequently for my carnivore folks down home & they always love it & never 'miss' the meat. With a dish like the traditional ground beef/pork Spaghetti Bolognese, along with the cooked pasta, it is so so easy to feel totally 'stuffed' after eating even a modest amount. With this meat-less version, not only do you not get that 'too-full-feeling', you get so much good nutrition & you are doing your bit for Planet Earth to boot 🌍. I sometimes make it with soya mince or other type of plant-based 'mince'; Ikea do a great one (try their plant-based ’Plant Balls’ next time you are out there - very tasty).
There are now so many options out there Yogis so whether you're vegan, vegetarian, plant-based, flexitarian - be open to trying the alternatives & mixing it up. You could even try 'half+half'; a home-budgeting option that many cooks used to utilise in 'leaner' times, certainly during & just after periods of war-time rationing, in recessionary times but also before the modern-times influx of horrendous intensively farmed animal 'cheap meat'. So substituting some of the meat for either lentils or say T.V.P. is not at all 'trendy'; there really is not much under the sun that is 'new’ Yogis 😉.
This dish is filled with protein, fibre, lycopene, Vitamin C; it’s cruelty, antiobiotic & hormone-free; it’s easy to make - it has the whole package. Also, most important of all - it really is quite D E L I C I O U S.
Enjoy & bon appétit!
Yoga Lili x
2 Onions - diced finely
4 Big Garlic Cloves - freshly crushed
3 Celery Stalks - sliced finely
2 Large Carrots - grated
2 Medium Courgettes - grated OR 1 Large Aubergine chopped into thumb-size pieces
1 Large Red Pepper - diced roughly or 1/2 Large Red Pepper & 1/2 Large Yellow Pepper - both diced roughly
300g Fresh Mushrooms (your choice!) - finely sliced or chopped small.
2 Tins (typically 400g) Whole Plum Tomatoes (try San Marzano variety if you can get them) - squash/mush up, either after or before adding.
4-6 Tblsp Tomato Puree
350g dried Green or Red Lentils - rinsed (or use tinned but dried are better, both for taking on flavour & for the environment too)
400ml water OR Vegetable stock (the Lentils will absorb a lot of the Tinned Tomato liquid & will need extra) - note - you may not need all 400ml
Vegetarian Worcestershire sauce (for that Umami hit) - a good splash
Balsamic Vinegar - a small splash
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Irish Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 tsp Dried Thyme
2 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Dried Marjoram
1 Tsp Dried Sage
1 Small Glass Red Wine (drinkable, not any old gut-rot! Wine flavour/quality matters in cooking too).
Dried or fresh Spaghetti (or Linguine, my preference or your own favourite dried pasta)
Fresh Basil torn
Fresh Italian (Flat-Leaf) Parsley chopped
Nutritional Yeast (aka 'Nooch')
Freshly shaved Parmesan or Grano Padano (or Ricotta or even crumbled Feta work well too)
*Heat the EV Olive Oil in a heavy-bottomed large frying pan (which has a matching lid) or use a heavy-bottomed large saucepan & lid.
*On low heat, sweat (use the lid) the chopped Onion until softened/translucent.
*Still on low, add the crushed Garlic & dried Herbs. DO NOT LET THE GARLIC BURN.
*Turning the heat up one level (low-to-medium), now add the grated Carrot. Sweat for 3 more minutes.
*Next add the grated Courgette. Sweat for 2 minutes.
*Now turn the heat up one more level (medium to medium high) & add the chopped Mushrooms. Cook on medium high for 3 minutes.
*Add the chopped Red/Yellow Pepper.
*Add the Red Wine now & turn the heat up to almost highest setting to ‘boil off‘ the alcohol in the wine - 2-3 minutes.
*Season again with salt & pepper - use your seasoning modestly (you can always adjust at end).
*Still on nearly your highest heat setting, now add the two tins of Chopped Tomatoes & stir/mix all the vegetables thoroughly.
*Add the rinsed Lentils now. Assess how much extra stock/water you may need to add. Stir the lentils through.
*Once the Lentils have just come to a boil, turn the heat right down & keep on a low-to-low/medium simmer with lid mostly on for 20-30 minutes. Stir more than occasionally - lentils can ‘catch’ on the bottom.
*Halfway through, add the Tomato Paste & stir through.
* Towards the end of cooking the lentils, add the Worcestershire sauce & stir thoroughly. Ditto the Balsamic vinegar, if using.
*Towards the end of the sauce cooking time, if eating at time of cooking, separately bring to boil lotsa water for your pasta, add generous amount of salt & cook for slightly less time than according to the pack instructions (they usually are too generous & you end up with overcooked, flabby pasta). For e.g., if it says 11 minutes, cook for 9 minutes but can taste-test at 8 minutes. Your sauce will be hot & adding it to the pasta will continue the ‘cooking’.
*Check the seasoning of the sauce.
*Drain the pasta & reserve a little of the 'pasta water'.
*Serve immediately in pre-warmed wide Pasta bowls & pile on your sauce on top, with a little of the reserved pasta water to 'loosen' up the sauce, especially if you reduced it a lot during cooking & it's very thick.
*Sprinkle liberally with the Basil & Parsley & add your Nooch or Cheese as you wish.
Let me know what you think! Have a great weekend Yogis & see you on your Yoga mats soon.