In my quest to try and save the planet, I am forever experimenting with vegetarian versions of my favourite meat dishes. And the arrival of the cold half of the year means soups, stews and hearty wholesome meals. Like this Lentil ragu.
Proper Italian Ragu is probably one of my favourite things. When I visited Naples last year, I stumbled upon a beautiful little restaurant that specialised in it; a place so good it was recommended to my sister; who enjoyed it just as much.
This, my second vegetarian ragu (see the first HERE), is absolutely nowhere near the taste of that restaurant in Italy. However it has a pretty delicious taste all of its own. The lentils benefit hugely from the richness of the sundried tomatoes and the saltiness of the olives. Left for a day, it’s got even more flavour. Oh, and it’s vegan too.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
- Half a large onion, finely chopped
- 1 fat garlic clove, crushed
- 1 stick of celery, chopped
- 5-10 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- A small handful of black pitted olives, chopped
- Half a cup of red lentils
- 400ml vegetable stock
- A glug of olive oil
- 1 – 2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
- Half a can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 generous teaspoon of dried thyme
- A handful of chestnut mushrooms, chopped
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Basil, to serve
Heat the olive oil in a medium sized saucepan on a medium heat, and add the onion, celery and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes or until all ingredients have softened. Add the thyme, sundried tomatoes and olives and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add the lentils and chopped tomatoes and stir through before adding the balsamic vinegar, then the stock. Turn down the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for 20-30 minutes; checking the progress of the lentils and ensuring the liquid doesn’t dry out (if it does, add a little water).
Once the lentils are soft and most of the stock has been absorbed, add the mushrooms and cook with the lid on for a further 10 minutes. This is the kind of dish that will benefit from being left for a while to develop, so once cooked, leave it as long as you can and simply reheat before serving.
Serve as it is, with crusty bread, or on top of a bowl of pasta, with a handful of basil leaves scattered on top.