Spaghetti with meat sauce was always the ultimate comfort food for me. It’s hard to think of anything quite as satisfying. But alas, I can’t eat meat anymore, so what to do? Come up with a killer vegan bolognese sauce, of course!
This one is particularly chewy and meat-like, because it has not just one, but three “meaty” ingredients: tempeh, mushrooms and lentils. Could this be the vegan holy trinity?
Vegan Bolognese Sauce
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 8-ounce package tempeh, crumbled
8 ounces cremini or white mushrooms, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 cup dried red lentils [UPDATE 10/10/11: Spanish pardina lentils are by far the best type to use]
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, undrained, chopped
1 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon salt, or up to 1 teaspoon, to taste
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven. Add the garlic, onion, bell pepper, carrot, celery and crushed red pepper, and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Turn the heat up a bit, add the mushrooms and tempeh and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Lower the heat back to medium, stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes more. A
dd the herbs, tomatoes, parsley and wine, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes. Add the lentils and cook until they just tender. This usually takes 20 minutes, but I’ve had some lentils take a lot longer. So keep tasting it along the way to determine when it’s done. If the sauce gets too dry, add a bit of water. Add salt at the end of the cooking time. Serve on whole wheat spaghetti or use in lasagna.