This month we are looking at how your diet can help your brain health (read the article: improve your diet, improve your brain health) so we are delighted to share the recipe for one of our favourite evening dishes, vegan lentil bolognese. This recipe includes a number of ingredients that contain nutrients to support our brain health, including tomatoes and bell peppers. Lentils are a great source of complex carbohydrates, vegan protein and B vitamins, all of which can contribute to improved brain health.
We commonly associate spaghetti Bolognese with Italy. However, when I was researching this dish it became clear that the origins of this family favourite is unclear. Italy is world renown for it´s pasta and sauce dishes. These “sauces” are more commonly called “ragu”, which refers to a sauce that is cooked over a low heat for many hours. The classic base to a ragu is onion, celery and carrot, which are cooked over a low heat, until they become soft and start to melt. For a traditional meat version, fine meat (like a veal or beef mince) or larger chunks would then be added and cooked for longer. Across Italy the amount of tomato added to the ragu varies, sometime no tomatoes are used, whereas outside of Italy most ragu sauces include lots of tomato. In our recipe we´ve gone with a more European interpretation and have a tomato-based ragu or “Bolognese”. We´ve replaced the meat with lentils and added a few extra vegetables for a fabulous plant-based vegan alternative.
Serving suggestion: If you want to enjoy a gluten-free version, then serve with gluten-free (vegetable) pasta, which you can purchase in most health food shops. We love to serve it with courgette, cut into strips, so that it looks like tagliatelle. It´s quick and easy to make, just take some attention with your knife! Cut the courgette into thin strips, blanch in boiling water for a minute, drain and serve immediately.
Vegan lentil Bolognese recipe
Calories: 744 total, 124 per serving
2 onions, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
2 courgettes, finely chopped
2 large handfuls of mushrooms, washed/peeled and chopped
1 large cup cooked lentils
1 large tin of chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato concentrate (optional)
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp oregano
½ tbsp thyme
1 tbsp dried basil
1 bay leaf
Large handful fresh basil, finely chopped
Cook the onion, celery and carrot in a frying pan until soft – use water instead of oil to prevent sticking. Add the garlic, and continue to cook for a further 3 minutes, before adding the pepper and courgettes. Continue to cook until soft, then add in the mushrooms to cook for a further 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, tomato concentrate and the herbs, and bring to the boil. Continue to cook for at least 30 minutes, over a low heat, stirring occasionally. The sauce should begin to thicken. If you have longer, you can leave the sauce to continue to cook, as the longer it cooks, the deeper the flavour becomes.
Add the cooked lentils to the mixture and continue to cook, for another 10-15 minutes. Add more water as required to prevent the mixture from drying out.
Tip: This recipe will freeze well, so we recommend making a double portion and freezing half, to make a quick and nutritious meal another night.
Enjoy healthy plant-based food on retreat
La Crisalida Retreats served plant-based vegan food – meaning lots of fresh vegetables (and fruit), wholegrains, nuts and seeds. We use no added salt, minimal products containing gluten and cook from fresh, with few processed foods. If you enjoy this recipe, come try our other food for yourself here on retreat.
About the author
- Lisa is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. She is an Epidemiologist, therapeutic hatha and yin yoga teacher and also teaches mindfulness meditation. Lisa has studied NLP and hypnosis, as well as nutrition (she designs the menus).