Nearly this entire meal can be made with pantry ingredients, which makes it ideal for last-minute entertaining or for a weeknight supper. There's some simmering involved, but the recipe is simple to make, and the leftovers keep (and freeze) beautifully. The cashew Parmesan is an optional but tasty topper: Keep some handy for pasta dishes, for sprinkling on grain bowls, or even for topping roasted vegetables. —Gena Hamshaw
For the vegan lentil bolognese:
olive oil, divided
yellow or white onion, chopped
large rib celery, chopped
medium-sized carrots, chopped
button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
cloves garlic, minced
brown or green lentils, rinsed
28-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
red pepper flakes
salt, or to taste
fresh basil leaves, chopped
penne or rigatoni pasta (or linguine, if you prefer)
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Cook for 8 minutes, or until the onions are clear and all of the vegetables are soft.
Add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are soft and have released some liquid and the garlic is fragrant.
Add the lentils, tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, water, rosemary, thyme, and oregano to the pot, along with a dash of red pepper flakes and the salt. Stir the mixture well, and bring it to a boil. Reduce it to a simmer and cover. Cook for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are cooked through but not mushy. If the mixture becomes overly thick (if it's tough to stir and no liquid is visible at the bottom), add some water by the 1/4 cup. When the sauce is finished, stir in the fresh basil.
When the sauce is fifteen minutes from being done, heat a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and toss it with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil.
Divide the pasta into six serving bowls and top with the bolognese sauce. Serve with an extra sprinkle of basil and cashew Parmesan (see below), if desired.
For the cashew Parmesan:
Add all the ingredients to a food processor fitted with the S blade. Pulse repeatedly, until the cashews are broken down, and then process the mixture until it's taken on a crumbly texture (similar to the size of grated parmesan). Serve with any pasta dish.
Stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container, the cashew Parmesan will keep for 2 weeks.
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.