I have been meaning to make a meaty tomato sauce for pasta for ages and ages. I knew I wanted to use lentils but I just wasn’t inspired on how to do it, until I saw this recipe on CBC for red lentil ragu. Theirs isn’t quite what I had in mind though – I wanted pasta, not potatoes as the starch, and I wanted it to be a bit more tomato-y than their proportions allowed. So after a few tweaks, voila! I really like using leeks instead of onions, they make the flavour more subtle.
This ended up being just what I had in mind: vegan but also a perfect match for a little cheese, pasta but more filling. It would also be tasty served with a side of mashed potatoes as almost a deconstructed shepard’s pie.
I served it on pasta with some cheese on top for myself, but oddly my toddler who usually exclusively eats cheese and pasta just ate the ragu on its own, frantically signing “more” after every bite! You just never know what he’ll love.
Lentil Ragu with Pasta
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large leek, sliced and well rinsed (I used three small ones)
- 1 carrot, minced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 can (5.5 oz) tomato paste
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 3 cups vegetable stock (or water and a 1/2 bouillon cube or 1 tsp better than bouillon)
- 2 cups dry red lentils
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
- to serve: pasta and parmesan cheese
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and carrot and cook for a few minutes. Then add the garlic and cook until the leeks have softened. Add tomato paste, canned tomatoes, 3 cups of water, lentils and bouillon. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, until lentils are soft. You may need to add a little more water as it cooks off, just add it 1/2 cup at a time.
Cook your pasta according to package directions, then top your bowl of pasta with a big scoop of ragu and cheese.