What is Spaghetti Lenilnese?
This is something I just made up and I like it. So of course, I wanted something that sounds like bolognese but with a lentil spin on it, hence spaghetti lentilnese. You see, bolognese is usually made with minced meat, but I like to make a plant-based version of bolognese instead. This version is made with red lentils and it takes just 15 minutes to make! Just as practical as the real deal but with no processed ingredients whatsoever. This recipe is whole-food, plant-based, oil-free, soy-free, nut-free and gluten-free if needed. But as with all my recipes, it is simple, quick, cheap, delicious and very nutritious!
Why did I choose red lentils for this spaghetti lentilnese?
Lentils are the best. They come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. But for this spaghetti lentilnese, I chose to use red lentils. Why? That is because red lentils cook very fast. I believe they are the fastest cooking lentils as they only take 10-15 minutes to cook. Having said that, they can easily be overcooked, so watch out. I also like their taste, because it is not too intensive and not very lentil-like. So you can spice them up any way you like to. They are also very cheap and very nutritious, a great source of iron as well as protein, so they are a great substitution for minced meat. Oh, and don’t worry if your lentils look like they have worms inside, once cooked their sprouts might become visible.
What kind of spices did I choose to use?
As with any good recipe, this one comes with onions and garlic. This is the foundation for the taste. And then comes my favorite spice in this whole universe. I bet you already noticed it comes up a lot of my recipes. It is called savory. Because this dish comes with a tomato sauce, savory works great with it. I like to think of savory as the improved version of oregano. I don’t even use oregano anymore because I like savory so much better. So with one simple pinch of this dried spice, this dish will get tons of flavor. It is not easy to build flavor in just 15 minutes, but this simple ingredient makes it possible. We will add all the spices to our cooked spaghetti and stir-fry them in spaghetti water.
Tip: Use spaghetti water instead of oil for stir-frying.
What kind of tomato puree did I choose to use?
Tomato puree is a great way to save some time. But tomato puree is not the same thing as tomato sauce. Tomato puree is made out of tomatoes only. No spices, no oils, and with way less sodium than tomato sauce. It is just tomatoes blended up and reduced. You can choose the kind with chunks or a smooth kind. I choose the smooth kind for this sauce because the lentils make it chunky. I always use organic tomato puree, because tomatoes are often on the dirty dozen list. And I like it because it usually comes in a glass container, which I can reuse or recycle.
Is spaghetti a whole-food?
You might be wondering if spaghetti is a whole food? My answer is yes, but only if it is made 100% from whole-grains. Then it is a whole-food that has been only mechanically processed. It was however stripped of water, but it absorbs all the water back in while cooking and that is what makes it better from other grain-products like for example bread. The main problem I see with bread is its dryness and density. Today you can find many types of spaghetti, made from wheat, corn, rice, and even lentils or chickpeas. Just make sure you choose the ones that are made from whole grains only. Choose gluten-free if needed.
How can you make this spaghetti lentilnese even better?
There is a simple trick I like to use to bring this pasta dish to a whole new level. I like to add a bit of plant-based sour cream. It can be made in a matter of minutes and it goes ridiculously well with this lentil sauce. Or with anything really. Once you make it you want to put it on everything. It works similar to regular sour cream in the sense that it provides a sour contrast, but it also has a subtle sweet and nutty flavor. Yum! You can get the recipe for my Cashew Sour Cream here.
For the sauce
- 1/2 cup red lentils dry
- 2 cup tomato puree
- 1 medium onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp savory dried
- basil fresh, to garnish (*optional)
- salt to taste
For the spaghetti
- 180 g spaghetti any type, whole-grain
- Put lentils in a sieve and wash them under running water. Cook them according to instructions on the package. (*)
- Cook spaghetti according to instructions on the package. Save some water from cooking. (*)
- Clean the onions and dice them into medium-sized cubes.
- Clean the garlic and dice it finely.
- Heat up a larger pan and add onions.
- Once they brown up and start to stick, add pasta along with the cooking water you saved.
- Add garlic, savory, and salt to taste. Stir-fry until the water evaporates. (*)
- Add cooked lentils and tomato puree. Mix well to combine. (*)
- Red lentils cook very fast and can easily overcook so watch out! If you don’t like the taste of lentils, put the cooked lentils in a sieve and wash them under running water.
- Cook the pasta al dente and save approx. 1/2 cup of cooking water.
- You can even cook lentils and pasta in the same pot and save up on the dishes!
- I like to stir-fry my pasta in pasta water and add all the spices at this stage, even the salt. The pasta water makes it easier for the spices to stick to the pasta and you can even use way less salt this way.
- Once you add the tomato puree, make sure you don’t cook for too long. Just enough for it to warm up. You don’t want for it to dry out and for the pasta to overcook.