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 😉 .
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.
* I used dry sun-dried tomatoes here. If yours have been preserved in oil, there is no need to soak them as they should be soft and plump already.