Mushroom & Lentil Ragu

Our recipe of the month for March brings you a real Meat Free Monday treat courtesy of the Hairy Bikers.

This alternative bolognese is rich, surprisingly meaty in texture, thoroughly tasty and a fabulous family meal for these cooler Spring evenings. It also got lentils and a fabulous mix of mushrooms into our little ones without them even noticing!. The recipe contains a good amount of veg but you could also add extra, and we served it with wholegrain spaghetti and additional greens. It freezes really well so we can’t wait to bring it out as a homemade ready-meal in the next few weeks. Serves 6-8

You will need

250g puy or brown lentils

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 celery sticks, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

250g mushrooms, finely chopped (we used a variety of wild mushrooms, as well as button mushrooms)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

200ml red wine (could be replaced by a little extra water but does add a lovely richness to the dish)

1 tbsp tomato purée

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

TO SERVE 50g linguine or spaghetti per person

Shavings of vegetarian parmesan or other hard cheese (optional)

Method

Cook the lentils according to the packet instructions, then set aside. Be careful not to overcook them — they should still have a little bite so they don’t disintegrate when added to the sauce.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, celery and carrot with a splash of water. Cover the pan and fry the vegetables gently, stirring regularly, for at least 10 minutes until they have softened. Add the mushrooms and garlic, turn up the heat slightly and cook until any liquid coming from the mushrooms has evaporated. Sprinkle in the oregano, followed by the cooked lentils.

Pour in the red wine and cook fiercely until most of it has evaporated, then add the tomato purée and the tinned tomatoes. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat, cover the pan and simmer for about 20 minutes. If the sauce seems too liquid, cook uncovered for another 5 minutes. Serve with linguine or spaghetti and a little cheese if you like.