To be clear, I have been a vegetarian my entire life, so I’ve never actually eaten bolognese. I have seen it many times, served it, smelled it, reheated it, cleaned it up, but that’s it! So I am calling this sauce “vegan bolognese,” knowing full well that it is not a typical bolgnese. It is a packed full of veggies, stewed with lentils and herbs, and the resulting sauce is delightful.
There’s something comforting about a pot simmering on the stove, filling the house with mouth-watering smells, foretelling of yummy meals to come. Without much fuss, this vegan bolognese is a dish that is ready in about two hours, the longer it cooks, the better really. I like it served over zucchini noodles, but it is also great with riced cauliflower, roasted veggies, or any shape of pasta, topped with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
A word about lentils. I highly recommend soaking them overnight at room temperature in a large pot of water with a healthy splash of apple cider vinegar. You will need to then thoroughly rinse them before returning to the pot with more water and boiling until tender. This helps break down the lentils so that they are easier on our guts to digest, and help eliminate some of those gases legumes are so well known for. However, in a pinch, canned lentils work just fine for this vegan bolognese recipe; I have made it both ways with equally delicious results, so do what works best for you and your schedule.
Yields about 8 servings
4 cups cooked lentils
1 bulb of fennel
1 head of garlic
1 32 oz. can tomato puree
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. onion powder
1 t. salt
2 t. freshly ground pepper
1 t. dried sage
1 t. dried oregano
½ t. chili flakes
2 T. olive oil
1. Begin by pouring the olive oil into a medium sized stockpot and turn on the stove to medium. Dice the onion and add to the pot. While the onion cooks, peel and dice the carrots into small pieces, as well as the fennel. Add to the pot and stir in with the onion.
2. Rinse and drain the lentils, then carefully scoop into the veggie mixture. Stir in all the spices and allow to cook for a few minutes.
3.Start peeling and mincing the garlic; once it is all done, add it in and stir.
4. Open the tomato puree, and pour it in—it splatters, so beware. Refill the can about halfway with water and swirl it around to get all the remaining sauce before pouring it into the pot.
5. Increase the heat to high until the sauce is simmering, then return to low and keep and eye on it, stirring every 20 minutes or so until it has thickened and the veggies are soft. Leftovers are great for about a week in the fridge or up to two months in the freezer. Bon appetite!