Jan 202015
 

Are you needs for comforting, hearty foods to fight the bitter cold at odds with your attempt to desperately hang on to your New Year’s Resolution? If so, this is the recipe for you. In terms of comfort food, few things top a good hearty bolognese, so I attempted to make a meatless (gasp!), vegan (double gasp!) and super healthy version (ok, you get it). The shocking thing is, it totally worked.
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Despite being totally meatless, this sauce had a hearty meatiness to it, from the lentils and mushrooms. In addition to those two star ingredients, there are a whole lot of veggies hidden in there too, like carrots, shallots, celery, garlic, red pepper, and tomatoes. A little bit of red wine adds an extra richness that the sauce needs.
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The sauce also isn’t hard to make, and is all done in one pot like a soup or stew. I think the flavors continue to develop as it sits, so if you make this in advance and refrigerate it for a day or two it will be even more flavorful than if you eat it right away!
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Nutrition Highlights: Not only is this sauce meatless (that is if you skip the parm I sprinkled on top, oops), it’s also packed with nutrients. First off, it has tons of fiber from the lentils and all the veggies. The lentils also give you folate, protein, iron to name a few. There are so many veggies in here that talking about all the vitamins and minerals in there would just take way too long, but trust me this is seriously good for you. Now as to what you serve it over, that is up to you. If you’re trying to be SUPER healthy, try spaghetti squash or spiralized zucchini (or a mix of the two like I did). If you’re not ready to cold turkey the pasta, go for a whole wheat version and watch the portion size. Either way, this warm, hearty meal will keep you full and happy for hours, without derailing your 2015 resolutions.
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Lentil & Vegetable Bolognese
makes about 6 servings
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What’s in it:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 or 4 large shallots, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 large carrots, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
1 cup green lentils
1 tablespoon italian herbs (I used half fresh chopped thyme and half dried oregano, but use any that you like, fresh or dried)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup red wine
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2, 14 oz cans diced tomatoes (low sodium or no salt added, if possible)
14 oz water (you’ll fill one of those empty tomato cans to measure)
Salt and Pepper to taste

How to make it:
1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil then the shallots and garlic. Saute for about 1.
2. Add the chopped carrots, celery, and red pepper. Saute for about 4 minutes until veggies begin to soften.
3. Add the chopped mushrooms and saute for another 3 minutes.
4. Add the lentils and herbs and a little bit of salt and pepper to taste (and optional red pepper flakes). Saute for 2 minutes.
5. Add the red wine and satue for 2 minutes so the alcohol can cook off.
6. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the veggie-lentil mixture. Pour in the diced tomatoes and fill one of the empty cans with water and add that as well.
7. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook covered for an hour, stirring occasionally. After an hour, taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. If the lentils are not soft enough, continue to simmer a bit longer. Adjust the thickness to your liking by adding additional water if necessary.
8. Eat right away, or for even better flavor, refrigerate for a day or two before eating it. Serve over whole wheat pasta, spaghetti squash, or spiralized zucchini, or anything else you can think of!
9. Optional- top with some parm. You’re eating a bowl full of vegetables–a little cheese if OK.
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Step 10- drink the remaining 7/8 ths of the bottle of wine. Your welcome.
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