Today’s dish is a little bit more on the hearty side yet still super summery, bursting with flavours of sun-drenched tomatoes and basil. This is my attempt at the famous pasta alla bolognese vegan-style – vegan bolognese. It’s easy to put together, super filling and ideal after a hardcore workout if you or someone you feed happens to be a bit of a fitness enthusiast (looking at you, Duncan) or a gym bunny. All three key components – wholemeal pasta, lentils and walnuts provide plenty of plant-based protein, which aids the muscle recovery process and puts the minds of those who constantly ask if you ‘are getting enough protein?’ at rest 😉 .
- serves: 2-3
VEGAN BOLOGNESE SAUCE
- 2 tbsp / 30 ml olive oil
- 1 small red onion, finely diced
- 3 large garlic cloves, finely diced
- 1 carrot, very finely diced
- 1 celery stalk, very finely diced
- 12 cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
- ¼ cup dry small green or puy lentils, cooked
- 6 sun-dried tomatoes*
- large sprig of basil
- large handful of walnuts, approx 25 g
- 3 tbsp tomato sauce
- ¼ tsp hot chilli powder (optional)
- grated nutmeg, to taste
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1-2 tsp sugar (optional, if tomatoes aren’t sweet already)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- fresh basil, to garnish
- 200 g wholemeal spaghetti (gluten-free for GF version)
- Boil a big pot of water for the pasta. Heat up olive oil in a large frying pan.
- Add diced onion to the pan and fry on a low heat until soft, then add in diced carrot and celery. Fry until soft, stirring frequently. Finally add in garlic and sauté until it softens and becomes fragrant.
- Place sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl. Once pasta water has come to the boil, ladle out a small amount of boiling water and pour it over your dried tomatoes. Let them soak for 5-10 minutes. This will soften them. Cook your pasta in the remaining water until nearly al dente, drain and set aside.
- Chop softened sun-dried tomatoes roughly and put them into a pestle and mortar. Pound them into a paste. Add walnuts and chopped basil leaves and work them into the sun-dried tomatoes. Add a bit of olive oil or water (if you don’t want to use too much oil in your meals) to help you work this quick pesto better.
- Move mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery and garlic mixture) to the side of the pan and place cherry tomatoes on the pan, cut side down. Let them cook for about a minute, then add pesto in, cooked lentils, a bit of tomato sauce and balsamic vinegar. Season with sea salt, black pepper, nutmeg, chilli and sugar to taste.
- Add cooked pasta to the pan. Toss it in the sauce, let it warm up for a minute and serve.