This dish is a little nostalgic for me, but not in the way you’d expect.
Other than being a darn tasty meal, it has no personal significance aside from the fact that it’s the last recipe I have that hasn’t been shared on my blog yet that I made and photographed while Mike and I were still living in Kuwait. (We left there last summer, so that shows you how long I’ve had this recipe in my queue!)
It’s time this deliciousness saw the light of day. You’re in luck because it’s a hum-dinger too!
My Red Lentil Bolognese is its own thing, but every bit as delicious as traditional tomato sauce, plus it has the amped up protein from lentils. You can use this sauce any way you’d use regular tomato sauce: layered into lasagna, as a sauce for pizza, or tossed with pasta.
If you’re going to go the route of pasta, I find that this recipe makes enough sauce to generously coat about two pounds of pasta. The nice thing about that is I typically only cook one pound of pasta at a time, so when I make this sauce I usually freeze half for another meal. (I love meals that serve double duty.)
And it bears noting that this sauce can be thinned out with a bit of water to make a really tasty soup too!
For more info about red lentils (including why they’re a great pantry staple), check out What are dried red lentils? on Cooking Light.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium-large onion, diced
- 4 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 (14 oz/400 g) can crushed tomatoes, with their juices
- 1 cup (7 oz/200 g) red lentils, rinsed
- 3 cups (710 ml) low-sodium vegetable stock
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (see Note)
- 1 teaspoon molasses
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup (60 ml) heavy cream (see Note)
- Fresh oregano leaves, for garnish (optional)
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat; once hot, add the onion and cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly.
- Add the tomatoes, red lentils, vegetable stock, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, oregano, paprika, salt, and black pepper. Cover the saucepan and bring it up to a simmer; turn the heat down and simmer until the sauce is thickened, about 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, but stirring more frequently toward the end. (Also, remember that the sauce will thicken more as it cools, so don’t let it get too thick.)
- Remove from the heat and stir in the cream.
- Toss the sauce with pasta (garnished with a little fresh oregano if you want), or use it any way you’d use regular tomato sauce.
Heavy Cream: Use coconut cream to keep this dish vegan.
To Reheat: This sauce thickens upon standing, so you may need to add a splash of water when you reheat it. This sauce can be reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave.