This mild, high protein vegan spaghetti sauce doubles as a fantastic chilli. It falls into one of the recipes I try to keep in my freezer but fail because it is the first thing I go for when it is there.
This is one of those recipes that gives well to emptying the fridge. It is never quite the same because I always adjust the exact vegetables based on whats in my fridge.
Red lentils are just so flexible, inoffensive and healthy. If my stomach allowed me I would eat lentils so much more often, all legumes but red lentils especially.
The recipe for a normal serving of sauce serves 6, I happen to like sauce on my pasta not pasta on my sauce so it is more like 4 servings around here, I eat about as much sauce on my pasta as I would in a bowl as a chilli.
Lentil spaghetti sauce
2-3tsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 grated carrot (or finely chopped)
2 stalks of celery (3 if using small organic celery hearts), finely chopped
1/2 – 1 red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 zucchini, finely chopped
1 cup red lentils
2 cups vegetable broth
1 can tomato paste
1 can drained, no-salt added diced canned tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tbsp fresh parsley, or basil (1 tsp of dried)
1/2 tsp salt
cayenne pepper to taste (omit for kids)
The easiest way to prepare these veggies is tossing it all (including the garlic and carrots) in a food processor and pulsing to a fine chop. it doesnt result in pretty chunks of veggies but it renders them all perfectly tiny for a kid friendly sauce in seconds. I suggest you do this in two batches (carrots, celery, onions, garlic first, then while they sautee do the red pepper and zucchini)
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium and cook onion, garlic, celery, carrot, as they start to soften add the zucchini and redpepper cook until all veggies are tender. (about 5 min)
Add lentils and broth and cover to cook for 25-35 min (until lentils are cooked) add the tomato paste, tomatoes, oregano, parsley and cook for another 15 minutes (lentils will go sorta mushy)
Variation: replace the oregano and basil with cinnamon (1 tsp) and all-spice (1/4 tsp) it completely changes the dish in an instant. I love it both ways but I prefer the traditional spices for serving on a pasta.
Tip: Generally this sauce needs no sweetening, but occassionally I get the balance wrong in the veggies I suppose and I find it needs a dash of something, a little brown sugar works well as does honey if you use it.
Baby friendly: Omit the salt, and you can use an immersion blender to render the sauce even thinner, or entirely into a puree. My kids have never had pureed pasta sauce cause I cannot be bothered. (this trick works too for picky husbands, you can even use this as a base for a meat or soy protein sauce to really increase the protein content)
As mentioned, this freezes super well.
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