Every other Thursday, Gena Hamshaw of the blog Choosing Raw shares satisfying, flavorful recipes that also happen to be vegan.
Today: Gena's vegan lentil bolognese has all the heartiness of the traditionally meat-based dish -- and it even comes with a quick recipe for cashew Parmesan.
Shop the Story
Within the pasta kingdom, few dishes deserve the title of “comfort food” more than pasta bolognese. The hearty, slow-simmering sauce transforms a bowl of noodles into a complete meal instantly, without any fuss or multiple pots. Of course, bolognese sauce is traditionally made with beef, veal, or pork, which is part of what accounts for its heartiness. To create a vegan/vegetarian version of this dish -- or a Meatless Monday edition -- one need look no further than the humble lentil.
Lentils are one of my favorite plant-based proteins. They’re cheap, they’re filling, they’re ridiculously healthy, and best of all, they’re versatile. They can be easily substituted for meat in all kinds of recipes, from soups and stews to Sloppy Joes.
This recipe features traditional bolognese ingredients -- celery, carrots, olive oil, tomatoes -- but it uses lentils as the base. It’s the sort of meal you can pull together from your pantry at the last moment, which makes it perfect for spur-of-the-moment entertaining or a weeknight supper. As you’ll see, the sauce is bold and flavorful (another bragging point for lentils: they absorb flavor really well). I like to serve it with penne or rigatoni, but I also like to serve the leftovers, warmed, over a bowl of brown rice or quinoa. The recipe will make enough for leftovers, and if you like, you can freeze half and save it for a cool, rainy night.
2 tablespoons olive oil 1 cup yellow or white onion, chopped 1 large rib celery, chopped 2 medium-sized carrots, chopped 1 cup button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 cup brown or green lentils, rinsed One 28-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes 3 tablespoons tomato paste 1/2 cup red wine 3/4 cup water 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme 2 teaspoons oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano Dash red pepper flakes 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped 12 ounces penne or rigatoni pasta (or linguine, if you prefer)
For the cashew Parmesan:
1 cup raw cashews 1/4 cup nutritional yeast 3/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon olive oil
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).
Gena Hamshaw is a certified nutritionist, recipe developer, and food blogger. She shares her latest culinary adventures at The Full Helping. She's the author of two cookbooks, Food52 Vegan (2015) and Choosing Raw (2014). She enjoys yoga, sweet potatoes, cashews, and things that are smothered in sauce.