It's "Veganuary" and after al the food indulgence of Christmas I have been excited to find some truly great Vegan friendly dishes during this gloomy, dark and work heavy month.
Good thing then that I stumbled across this fully vegan pasta dish (if you omit the Parmesan which I couldn't quite on this occasion), because this lentil and aubergine bolognese is not some sort of second rate version of the classically meaty bolognese but a real SHOW STOPPER, better in my opinion than any meaty version!
Trust me on this one - the combo of slowly caramelised aubergine and red onion, lentils, red wine and herbs is all kinds of incredible and for me it's a new pasta dish favourite, even once January is over and done with!
- 400g spaghetti
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 3 aubergines, cut into 2cm dice
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- 1 celery stick, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 Medjool date, chopped
- 200g Puy lentils, well rinsed
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 200ml red wine (if making for vegans, use vegan red wine)
- 400ml vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp freshly chopped oregano
- Salt and pepper
- Grated cheese (Parmesan or a vegan or vegetarian alternative)
- Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over a medium–high heat and add the red onion with a good pinch of salt.
- Fry for 2–3 minutes until just softened, then add the aubergines and another pinch of salt.
- Fry for about 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until golden and caramelised.
- Tip the aubergine and onion out of the pan and set aside.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan over a medium heat and gently fry the finely chopped onion, celery and carrot for about 5 minutes until softened.
- Add the garlic and fry for another couple of minutes, then add the tomato purée and spices and cook, stirring, for another minute.
- Add the chopped date, lentils, tomatoes, wine, stock and oregano.
- Cover the pan and simmer gently for 25 minutes, then remove the lid and simmer for another 20 minutes to allow the excess liquid to evaporate.
- After this time, the lentils should be completely tender, but if not, add a splash of water and continue to simmer gently until they are.
- Using a hand blender, pulse about half of the mixture: you can do this in the pan.
- This will thicken up the mixture while also leaving some chunkier bits.
- You may need to add a splash of water to loosen the bolognese.
- Stir in the reserved onion and aubergine, then taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Serve with pasta of your choice and grated cheese.