This hearty mushroom lentil bolognese is packed full of flavour and has a nice bite to it thanks to the green lentils! You will not miss the meat in this one! Perfect for making a big batch of and freezing down!
Eating plant-based food is becoming increasingly more popular! Some choose to go all the way and eat a vegan diet and others choose to eat mainly plant based and eat a few animal foods from time to time. And speaking of plant-based, what it means seem to be a bit of a subjective matter. Either way, we can all agree that eating more plant-based food is great for your health, your wallet and for the environment!
Something I have noticed is that it can easily become routine to rely on meat when cooking, but there are so many interesting and fun dishes you can make with veggies and pulses! Don’t be afraid to experiment! Also, in many classic meals the meat can easily be replaced with a plant-based source of protein such as lentils or beans! And this lentil bolognese is a prime example of where lentils replaces the mince without sacrificing any of the flavour or texture. Instead, it actually improves it!
Lentils and beans are sources of food that sometimes tend to get ignored when it comes to healthy eating. They are packed with nutrients, antioxidants and protein! And they’re extremely tasty, and lentils especially takes on other flavours well, making it great to add to sauces and stews!
Eating lentils and beans are also associated with health benefits too! They are loaded with antioxidants, polyphenols, b-vitamins and important minerals such as zinc and iron.
Iron is extremely important for human health and one of the most common nutritional deficiencies found in people around the world. Iron is important for many things in the body, but it’s main role is being a part of the oxygen transporting protein hemoglobin. Low levels of iron are associated with fatigue, tiredness and pale skin.
The iron found in lentils and beans are non-heme, so it’s important to eat something with vitamin C to aid the absorption of this type of iron! Foods that are rich in vitamin C are dark leafy greens, broccoli, red peppers, tomatoes, kiwi, orange for example!
Lentils are also rich in dietary fibre, both soluble fibre, which helps to balance blood glucose levels, reduced cholesterol and feeds the good bacteria in your gut and insoluble fibre, which helps you to stay more regular.
Also, pulses are a good source of protein and slowly digestible carbohydrates, that together with the fibre will keep you fuller for longer.
Studies have shown that eating pulses is associated with
- Lowered blood pressure, in both people with and without hypertension (1)
- Improved blood sugar levels: Biomarkers for glucose control was improved when eating more pulses (2)
- Reduced cholesterol levels: Eating one serving of dietary pulses can reduce LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol (3)
WATCH HOW TO MAKE MUSHROOM LENTIL BOLOGNESE
When I make this mushroom lentil bolognese, I like to serve it with courgetti /zoodles. I find that this lentil bolognese is very filling on it’s own and the courgetti complements the bolognese perfectly. Even the chef, who has quite the appetite finds himself extremely full after having this bolognese with courgetti instead of spaghetti! But if you’re feeling extra hungry, or just want pasta, you can do a half and half (half spaghetti, half courgetti). Then you still get a good dose of veg without having to sacrificing anything!
Sometimes I like to finish this bolognese with pan fried pancetta, for that extra touch of flavour and umami! A little goes a long way with pancetta! And I always like to finish this with parmesan or pecorino! But if you want to keep it vegan, swap the parmesan for nutritional yeast!
Hearty Mushroom Lentil Bolognese
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 large carrot
- 2 celery sticks
- 2 garlic cloves
- 300 g brown mushrooms
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 120 ml / 0.5 cup red wine
- 150 g / 3/4 cups lentils
- 2 x 400 g tinned tomatoes
- 2 tbsp thyme
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp sugar (optional, to taste)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 350 ml water, more or less
- Finely dice the onion, celery and carrot. Mince the garlic. Chop the mushroom.
- Heat a large pan and add oil. Fry the onion, carrot and celery on medium heat for 5-8 minutes, stirring regularly, until softened and translucent.
- Add the garlic and fry for a minute, and then add the mushrooms and fry for a couple of minutes, until the mushrooms have softened.
- Add the tomato puree and cook it off for a minute.
- Pour in the red wine and cook until reduced to half.
- Add lentils, tomatoes and herbs. Bring to a boil, stir and leave to simmer for about 40-45 minutes. Check the sauce regularly and add water as the lentils will absorb plenty of liquid and you will have to add about 350 ml / 1.5 cups of water to the sauce whilst it simmering.
- Once the sauce has simmered for 40-45 minutes, season with salt and pepper and sugar if needed.
- Serve the lentil bolognese with spiralized courgette/zucchini and rocket salad. Finish with a good dose of parmesan/pecorino, or nutritional yeast to keep it vegan.
- Try and dice the carrot, onion and celery as finely as you can, however...
- You can grate the carrot, onion and celery in a food processor if you wish to save some time / don't want to chop.
- The recipe calls for brown mushrooms, but other mushrooms such as portobello mushroom or white button mushrooms work too.
- Like mentioned, keep an eye on the sauce whilst simmering as the lentils will absorb plenty of liquids! I usually add anything between 1.5-2 cups, more or less, in total, to the sauce. Depending on what kind and brand of lentils you use, the amount of water can vary, so keep an eye and top up with water regularly.
- To keep this vegan, skip the parmesan and serve with nutritional yeast instead.