Lentil and Mushroom Bolognese

The girls I work with at my 9-5 job love and appreciate food (lucky for me) almost as much as I do! So lunch time is always a treat! Smelling the delicious meals as they warm up and asking “What’s for lunch?” is a ritual. A few weeks ago I smelt something particularly delicious as my colleague pulled her lunch from the microwave. “What’s for lunch?” I asked. She told me it was lentil and mushroom Bolognese. I was quite surprised at the answer and instantly intrigued. It smelt ah-mazing!

With my curiosity sparked, I set out to make lentil and mushroom bolognese this week and I’m pleased to tell you that it tastes as good as it smells! I didn’t think meatless bolognese could taste so good. While Mr Eat Canberra liked it, he said he would of preferred it with meat…. Of course he did, he’s a male! I didn’t do myself any favours when I proudly announced that we were having ‘meatless bolognese’ for dinner. If I didn’t tell him I don’t think he would have thought twice about it, at least not until he was half way through. Note to self, if your meat-eating other half likes their meat don’t tell tell them it’s meatless until after they’ve eaten it!

Ingredients list:

1 carrot, peeled, coarsely chopped

1 brown onion, peeled, 
coarsely chopped

2 celery stick, coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves

2 1/2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme (use a teaspoon of dried thyme if you don’t have fresh)

4 fresh or dried bay leaves

4 large field mushrooms

1 cup French green lentils (use whatever dried lentils you have in the cupboard)

410g can rich diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (if you’re not vegetarian use beef stock, it makes the dish richer)

2 cups tomato passata sauce

Pasta of choice

Finely grated parmesan cheese

Chopped fresh continental parsley leaves, to add to the sauce and to serve

What to do:

  1. Get your food processor out and process onion, carrot, celery and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat 11⁄2 tbs of the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion mixture and bay leaves. Cook, stirring, until soft. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. While the onion mix is cooking, process mushrooms in food processor until finely chopped. Don’t process them to much because you don’t want them to form a past. Heat remaining oil in pan over high heat. Cook mushrooms, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir onion mixture and lentils into mushroom. Stir in tomato, stock of your choice , passata, half of the chopped parsley and chopped thyme leaves. Reduce heat to low. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1-1.5hrs or until lentils are tender. Season well with salt and pepper.
  4. While the lentils are cooking, cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.
  5. Top pasta with bolognese and sprinkle with parmesan and parsley.

Bon appétit!

TIP I’ve been on a mission to use up the bits and pieces I have in my pantry so I can save money and reduce wastage! So I served this with the half packed of wholemeal penne I found and I broke up the four dried wholemeal lasagna sheets that were sitting in a box. Extra healthy and I got rid of a box and a packet that had been sitting in the cupboard for way to long! Serve this dish with the pasta of your choice.