When you think of vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese, do you think of Quorn?
A lot of people tend to assume that if you are making a sauce that would normally have meat in it, such as spaghetti bolognese or chilli con carne, then you must be substituting it with Quorn. The idea that Quorn is the essence of vegetarianism, and all vegetarians must eat the stuff can be a little annoying when every place you go to throws Quorn at you because, clearly, that’s all vegetarians eat. As a lacto-vegetarian Quorn isn’t particularly appealing to me, and even without the egg factor it normally tastes a bit wrong. For those of us who aren’t particularly enthusiastic about this genetically modified mushroom hybrid, there is always soy mince. However, from my experience it often looks like bird food and has a disturbingly chewy texture. I am sure there are better vegetarian mince alternatives out there, but if you haven’t got the time (or the money) to look for them remember that lentils are not only the right shape for traditionally mince based dishes but they are also tasty, healthy and very cheap.
What you need: A tin of green lentils (I don’t think dry would work in this case), two tins of chopped tomatoes, half a pack of small chopped mushrooms, a chopped red pepper, one finely chopped chilli, a few basil leaves, one chopped onion, a few crushed garlic cloves, olive oil.
Spices: Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Salt, Pepper, Chilli Power, a sprinkle of chilli flakes
Note: This recipe is really cheap to make. One tin of lentils is around £0.55 and the chopped tomato is around £0.35. Your average decent shop bought jar of bolognese sauce is going to be around £1.00. Even if you don’t normally cook from scratch, just give it a try. You will save money and gain on taste.
1: Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan and chop the onion and crush the garlic. Drop a little garlic in the heated oil and if it sizzles (but doesn’t burn, don’t let it burn!) it is hot enough for the onions. Add onions/garlic and fry for about five minutes. Then turn to a lower heat and cook for a few further minutes until translucent.
2: Add the chilli and basil and cook on a medium heat for about two minutes, then add the peppers and mushrooms and sprinkle in the spices. Fry for a bit longer to let the peppers soften then add the lentils, stir together, and fry for about five minutes, then transfer to a low heat.
3: Add the tinned tomatoes and some more spices, stir and cook on a low heat for about ten minutes/whilst cooking the spaghetti. Make sure it doesn’t start to boil as that will impair the taste
4: Cook the spaghetti as per pack instructions. To add some extra flavor to your spaghetti add a stock cube to the water and remember to salt!
5: Enjoy with cheese and olives!