VEGETABLE & LENTIL BOLOGNESE WITH ZUCCHINI NOODLES & WALNUT PARMESAN
This hearty, vegetable rich meal has become a staple in our house. Serve this up to your friends and family and see if they can tell that it contains no meat. It has a rich bolognese flavour, texture and "meatiness" thanks to the lentils, walnuts and red wine! And it tastes even better reheated the next day, if you have any leftover!
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 leek, finely chopped and rinsed well
2 zucchini, finely chopped
3 celery stems, finely chopped
3 cups (approx 450g) of finely chopped mushrooms (I use button or flat mushrooms)
½ cup (50g) walnuts, finely chopped (or quickly blitzed in a small food processor)
1 cup red wine
3 tbsp tomato paste
700g jar passata (tomato puree)
1½ cup ( 240ml) vegetable stock
1 cup (190g) green or puy/french style lentils
1 cup (100g) walnuts
2½ Tbsp Nutritional Yeast (which you can buy from most Health Food stores)
Salt, to taste
To Serve: Fresh parsley and/or basil, chilli flakes and lots of the walnut parmesan
Heat olive oil in a large ovenproof casserole dish (that has a lid) over medium-low heat. Add the chopped onion, leek, carrot, zucchini, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat for 15 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften.
Add the mushrooms, tomato paste, walnuts and sauté for another 5 minutes until the mushrooms begin to soften.
Add the red wine and cook down until the wine evaporates (about 3-4 minutes).
Add the lentils, tomato passata and vegetable stock or water and season well with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then cover with lid and place in an oven (preheated to 180ºC )to cook for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Alternatively you can just leave it to simmer over low heat (lid on) on the stovetop for the same amount of time. Taste and season with extra salt and pepper, if needed,
To make the walnut parmesan, combine the walnuts, nutritional yeast and a good pinch of salt in a small blender or food processor and pulse to combine and until the walnuts have broken down to a very fine crumb. Taste and add more salt, if needed.
To make the zucchini noodles, use a spirallizer to magically turn your zucchinis into zucchini noodles! If you don't have a spirallizer you can use a vegetable peeler and simply peel the zucchinis into long thin strips.
Serve the bolognese on top of the zucchini noodles and garnish with lots of the walnut parmesan, fresh parsley or basil leave and chilli flakes (if desired).
I save time on chopping by pulsing the vegetables in my food processor until they are finely chopped. Make sure you process the mushrooms separately to the rest of the vegetables as these are added later in the cooking process than the rest of the vegetables.
I serve the zucchini noodles raw (without cooking them at all) as I find that the heat from the bolognese piled on top of them warms them through sufficiently.
If zucchini noodles aren't your thing, serve with cooked pasta (or a combination of both, which is how I often serve it up to the kids). You could also use this bolognese as a filling for baked sweet potatoes.