Vegetarian Lentil Ragu

Something I’m really aware of these days, is the amount of meat and fish that we eat as a family. Trying to cut back has been on my radar for a while now, it’s something that I tend to dip in and out of rather than commit to fully. However, recently I’ve re-connected with an old acquaintance on Instagram and have been following her and her family’s’ conversion to veganism with real interest. Antonia’s posts are a reminder to me to really think about what I eat. Whilst I don’t think veganism is for me right at this minute, it’s core values are things that I really would like to recognise and follow fully at some point in time. I do think it’s wrong the way animals are treated, I do believe mass farming animals contributes to our destruction of this planet, I do feel that drinking dairy milk (as adults) is a bit odd, I do feel that it’s been indoctrinated into us that we need meat in our diet, I do believe that we eat too much meat as a nation and that plant based foods are better for us. And I do believe that it would be better for our bodies all round if we cut back on our meat consumption.

Lentil Ragu

Taking the IVF plunge (although we haven’t actually got to a whole IVF cycle yet, that’s another post) really made me think about what I eat everyday. Not that my diet isn’t fairly healthy anyway (lets ignore the white baguette sandwich and hula hoops that I’m eating right now), but I’m supposed to be eating lots of greens, lentils, vegetables, beans etc. Thinking about this, I decided that I wanted to try and eat less meat, stripping away my basket staples like chicken, mince, bacon, replacing them with Quorn and other vegetarian substitutes (despite the husbands grumbles). A couple of vegetable based dinners every week could only be a good thing and certainly something we’ll be doing going forwards is Meat Free Monday (#meatfreemonday) A good spaghetti Bolognese is one of my favourite meat dishes, I found this pretty decent vegetarian version. I’ve amended it a little, here’s my recipe:

Vegetarian Lentil Ragu
Feeds 4 adults

Ingredients:

    • 1 tbsp Oil
    • 1 Onion, finely chopped
    • 1.5 Carrots, finely chopped
    • 1.5 Celery sticks, finely chopped
    • 2 Garlic cloves, crushed
    • 250g Dried red lentils
    • 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
    • 1 tbsp Tomato purée
    • 1 tsp Dried oregano and thyme
    • 1.5 Bay leaves
    • 500ml Vegetable or chicken stock (obviously chicken makes it slightly non-vegetarian!)
    • 1 cup Red wine (I use American cups for some of my measuring, 1 cup = 250ml)
    • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    • 500g Quorn mince for 4 people, or 250g for 2 (see my explanation later)
    • Spaghetti to serve
    • Parmesan or vegetarian cheese to serve
    • Salt and pepper to season
 Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook gently for 15-20 minutes until everything is softened.
  2. Stir in the lentils, bay leaves, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, herbs, stock, wine and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook for 50 minutes until the lentils are tender. I found that the lentils stuck pretty quickly to the bottom of the saucepan (I may have been distracted by a shouting child), and actually burnt a bit so I had to swap pans. Keep an eye on them, keep stirring and add water if they’re starting to stick.
  3. Once the mixture has cooked for 50 minutes, at this point I halved it, removing some to freeze.
  4. Add your Quorn mince (I just added 250g here – you can’t re-freeze Quorn mince so don’t mix into your mixture if you’re going to remove any for freezing), season and cook for another 10 minutes.
  5. Serve with spaghetti (I use whole-wheat) parmesan cheese and lots of black pepper. YUM.
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This was really tasty and a decent replacement for a meaty Bolognese. Something to note however is, we had some leftovers the next day and I served it with rice. This didn’t work. It tasted really bland so I think this dish is best dished up with pasta (spaghetti or penne I reckon) as an accompaniment.

Oh, and if you’re interested, Antonia has written two really great posts about becoming a vegan, here and here.

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