Lentils are one of the world’s oldest known crops, tracing back as far as 13,000 BC, cultivated in early civilisations in India, Egypt, Greece, and - of course - Italy. During Roman times, it was ritual to consume a lentil stew now known as 'Lenticchie a Capodanno' at the dawn of a new year (the dish literally translates to "Lentils on New Year's Eve). Romans would also gift a small bag of the pulses to loved ones, as a gesture of good fortune, as their shape was said to symbolise money. And it would seem this well-documented fondness for the legume is a love for the ages - to this day, lentils remain a true staple in Italian cuisine - natives enjoy these earthy pulses in soups and stews year-round. Rich in protein, lentils are also a great alternative to meat, the versatile legume being a perfect vegan substitute in sumptuous ragus that traditionally feature minced or shredded meat.
And this vegan ragu is once such instance. Here, robust lentils are slowly stewed with classic Italian flavours - think basil, tomato, garlic and white wine. Fresh chilli adds vibrancy, while rosemary lends an earthy flavour that complements this sumptuous and comforting vegan lentil ragu.
Our recipe for vegan lentil ragu
Prep time: 70 minutes
Cook time: 70 minutes
Calories per serving: 278kcal (not including pasta)
- 500g dried lentils (we like to use either green or brown lentils)
- 800g passata
- 800ml water
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 100g onion, finely chopped
- 80g carrot, finely chopped
- 1 stem of celery, finely chopped
- ½ fresh chilli, finely chopped
- 4 leaves fresh basil
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- ¾ glass dry vegan white wine
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Fill a large bowl with water, and add the lentils, leaving to soak for about an hour. After that time, rinse the pulses with cold water and strain.
- Add your oil to a large pot, over a high heat. Take your finely chopped onion, carrots, rosemary and celery, and add to the pot. Fry until slightly softened, then add the garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant.
- Add your lentils and white wine, continuing to cook on high for a further 5 minutes.
- Once the alcohol has cooked off, add the tomato, water, salt, chilli and basil. Cover your pot and simmer for around 50 minutes over low heat.
- Remove the lid, and increase the temperature to high, cooking for around 10 minutes. When the lentils are soft and the sauce is thickened, remove it from the heat. With an immersion blender, blend a third and stir to combine. When doing so, be sure to maintain some texture in this purposefully rustic ragu. Serve with your favourite vegan pasta - malloreddus or orecchiette are particularly deft at capturing deliciously robust ragus, though our fresh, vegan pasta dough recipe can be translated into any shape you should happen to desire!
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