Are you missing your big bowl of spaghetti Bolognese after going whole food, plant-based? Look no further than this incredible recipe for Red Lentil Bolognese with Zoodles (aka Zucchini Noodles)!
When my husband and I lived in Los Angeles for over a decade, we used to eat out. A lot. So much so that we both got very, very “puffy.” One of our favorite restaurants was called La Scala Presto (they were very well-known for their chopped salads) and my husband’s absolute favorite thing on the menu was spaghetti with Bolognese Sauce. Being a vegetarian at the time, I always ordered a very delicious version of the same thing made with diced up zucchini and carrots. It really was tasty.
So when I decided to give this lentil bolognese recipe a try from Minimalist Baker, my mind returned to those early days of our relationship and how much Randy enjoyed this dish. I was not prepared for his reaction when he ate it though.
He said it tastes EXACTLY like the real Presto La Scala Bolognese. So much so that he wouldn’t know the difference.
That probably has something to do with the fact that the marinara sauce that I used has the classic addictive combination of salt, fat and sugar. When I make it again (which I will, I will!!!), I’m going to use a different pasta sauce that is salt free, but on a whim, I used the sauce that the Minimalist Baker uses which is Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil. When I looked on the label and saw that sugar was way down on the ingredients list, I knew it was okay to try it this one time, but I probably wouldn’t use that sauce again unless I was serving this dish to guests. The TJ’s Tomato Basil marinara sauce is also oily and salt, so there’s that.
Calculating Bright Line Eating protein, fat and vegetable values for “complex” recipes (and by complex, I don’t mean difficult to make, I just mean the recipe has a combination of protein, fat and veggies) takes a lot of patience. I’m also new at it, so if I get something wrong, don’t shoot me, I’m trying my best. At this point in my journey on this planet as a recovering perfectionist, I feel that my best is good enough.
I’m not sure I’ve ever made a recipe that was more of a no-brainer than this. I don’t care what version of a plant-based diet you ascribe to, you must make this recipe tonight. And this is definitely a recipe thing that I would feel excited about serving to guests.
Red Lentil Bolognese with Zoodles
inspired by a recipe from Minimalist Baker
makes 7 BLE servings (10 ounces of Red Lentil Bolognese + 7-11 ounces of zucchini noodles = 1/2 protein, 1 Fat and 14-18 ounces of vegetables)
2 Tbsp olive oil (or not, no biggie, just leave this out and dry saute the onion and garlic)
6 ounces chopped onion or shallot
8 cloves garlic, minced (or 8 Dorot garlic cubes or 1 1/8 ounces garlic)
7 3/4 ounces carrots, finely shredded (2 cups)
32 ounces (2 jars) of your favorite marinara sauce (or tomato sauce)
Pinch red pepper flake
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
1 cup (8 ounces) water
1 1/2 cups red lentils
8 medium zucchini, rinsed and both ends sliced off, spiralized
Heat a large skillet with a cover or a dutch oven over medium heat. I used a 12-inch cast iron pan because I’m slightly anemic and I’m focused right now on fixing that!
If you’re using oil, add the oil. Once the pan is hot, add the onion (or shallot) and garlic. Sauté that for at least 5 minutes, until onion is just starting to get translucent.
Add the shredded carrots and stir. Cook for 5 more minutes and the add the marinara sauce. When I made this the first time, I used a decadent Tomato and Basil Marinara sauce from Trader Joe’s as the original recipe suggested. In the future, unless I’m serving this to guests, I’m going to stick with my Salt-free Marinara sauce from Trader Joe’s.
Add red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, water, and lentils. Increase heat slightly and bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and continue cooking until lentils are tender – stirring occasionally – about 40-60 minutes. Add a bit more water if mixture gets too thick. You want the lentils to be cooked, but slightly al dente so that they don’t turn into a mush.
Serve the Red Lentil Bolognese over your zucchini noodles (aka zoodles). Add vegan parm if you desire (that’s just nutritional yeast and some nuts processed in a food processor).
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