Everybody has their favourite, tried-and-tested ‘go-to’ recipe. You know, the one that you always revert back to if you are either:
a) short of time;
b) out of creative ideas;
c) really craving some reliable, 100% tasty comfort food
The recipe I am about to share with you is by far my favourite meal, and it has become such a regular feature in our household that not a week goes by that we do not make some variation of it (and the recipe makes a big enough batch for leftovers, which turns lunch the next day into an absolute dream – bonus!).
Why is this my favourite recipe? Well, first of all, it is a PASTA dish. If that fact alone isn’t enough to convince you, the second reason is even more appealing – it is the closest thing I have ever tasted to authentic, meat-based spaghetti bolognaise (my mother’s version of this dish of course, because admittedly, there are hundreds of bolognaise versions). There is something about the combination of lentils, tomato puree, mushrooms and spices that just give it that ‘meat appeal’ – something that your non-vegan friends and family members will love (trust me, I have served this to many meat-eaters). Oh and let us not forget the avocado – the crowning glory of this dish! The creamy, rich, smooth texture of this wonderful fruit beautifully replaces the cheese one would normally sprinkle so generously over such a dish, and if you are really feeling adventurous you can even go ahead and sprinkle some nutritional yeast on top for some extra flavour.
Most of the ingredients are probably already in your pantry, so there is no reason not to try this yummy pasta dish:
- Wholewheat pasta (spaghetti, or any other shape)
- 1 can of tomato puree
- 1 punnet of white button mushrooms – chopped into tiny pieces
- 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped into cubes
- 1/2 large pineapple cut into chunks (about 1 and 1/2 cups)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup of whole lentils
- 2 cups of water
- 1/4 cup of soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Worcester sauce (a brand that does not contain anchovies or other animal products)
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (depending on your heat threshold)
- 3 tbsp molasses
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- Optional – Bisto or other vegan gravy powder to thicken the mixture
- 1-2 tsp coconut oil (for frying)
- 1 ripe medium avocado
- Salt and coarse black pepper to taste
- Optional: spinach (as much as you desire)
- Rinse the lentils thoroughly under running water. Place them in a medium sized pot along with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and turn down the heat, allowing them to simmer for 30-40 minutes (I find the softer they are the better).
- When the lentils are almost done, heat the coconut oil in a large pot and fry the onions until translucent. Add the mushrooms and cayenne pepper and continue frying.
- Add the lentils and tomato puree, mixing well.
- The soy sauce, Worcester sauce, apple cider vinegar, molasses and salt and pepper are added next.
- Stir in the green pepper and pineapple
- Prepare about 1 tbsp of the gravy powder according to the instructions on the packet (basically you mix the powder with cold water until the lumps disappear) and add to the pot. Stir in well and allow to simmer for 15-20 min.
- Stir in the spinach if desired
- Prepare the pasta of your choice, and serve with slices of avocado and salt and pepper on top.
The best thing about this dish is that it is versatile – the leftovers can be eaten on toast the next day, or even rice should you not want to eat pasta. Even just a plain bowl of it with some avo is terrific. The choice is yours!