Spaghetti Puy-ognese

A delicious veg based alternative to beef Bolognese. All dishes that are traditionally made with meat mince can be made with pulses; shepherds or cottage pie (try https://wp.me/p7RDjy-52), chilli (try https://wp.me/p7RDjy-fk) . A very healthy dish, great to aid weight loss, by reducing fat and calories, whilst increasing nutrients and fibre. Pulses are super cheap so it is also a good way to improve you diet and watch your budget.

I prefer to make large batches of such dishes and freeze extra portions so this recipe makes around 6-8 servings. I used dried lentils, but you can also use the pre cooked canned or packet versions. Ingredients are marked as bold text:

  • Cook the lentils:
    • 500g dried Puy lentils – follow the instructions on the packet, e.g. soak in cold water for at least 20 mins, I leave mine longer and refresh the water a couple of times. Finally drain the water and rinse.
    • Cover with fresh water and bring to the boil, follow instructions on the packet, typically 40 mins.
    • Drain and rinse, set aside.
  • To make the sauce:
    • heat a pan, medium heat, add a splash of apple juice (use oil if you prefer).
    • Finely chop a large onion and add to the pan, sweat for 4-5 mins.
    • Crush and chop 4 cloves of garlic add them to the pan and sweat for a further 1-2 mins.
    • Finely chop 2 large carrots, 1 medium sweet potato (optional) and dice 3-4 large tomatoes add to the pan, with enough water to keep it wet (use a can of tinned tomatoes if easier).
    • Cover and cook on high heat for 5-10 mins.
    • Add cooked lentils.
    • Add a generous sprinkle (3-4 pinches or to taste) of italian style herbs – basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary bay. Use dried or fresh.
    • Add approx 400ml tomato passata.
    • Optional for extra flavour – add 100g finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes or 30g paste and or a glass of red wine.
    • Add salt and pepper to taste or leave for people to add themselves. Remember most stocks have salt so air on side of caution.
    • Add veg stock, just enough to cover the mixture, put the lid on and bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer.
    • Simmer for at least 30 mins. Check to make sure it doesn’t stick or dry out, add more stock if needed. Past the 30 mins continue to cook for as long as you want, depending on how soft you want the veg to be. The longer you cook the more the flavours will mature.
  • Serve: 
    • Serve with pasta and / or garlic bread.
    • If you are making the dish as a plant based dish or for vegans use dried pasta as fresh pasta often contains egg.
    • For healthy option serve as it is as a complete dish without pasta, or with a green salad or cooked greens such as broccoli, Swiss chard, kale.
    • Once cooked you can leave it and reheat later. It will keep for around 5 days in the fridge and freezes very well.

Ramen – Japan we salute you

Warning Ramen is addictive! Fortunately it is easy to make and healthy.

The majority of the recipes I post are veg dishes. We all know how to cook with meat and fish but most people don’t know how to cook without them. The idea is easy dishes to make, that serve as a good way to cut down on meat intake, to try dishes without feeling any compromise of flavour or texture. Ramen is perfect for this 🙂 Ramen has a deep rooted history in Japanese cuisine, with each region having it’s own take on the dish. The beauty of it is, start the basic broth, then add whatever you want. You can make this veg version or add meat or fish if you want, there are no set rules.

Basic ingredients list, serves 2:

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (or alternative)
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 3 teaspoons ginger, grated
  • 4 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin or rice wine vinegar
  • 1 litre vegetable stock (I use Marigold vegan Swiss boullion)
  • 100g fresh shiitake mushrooms (I use dried mushrooms, soaked to rehydrate)
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 100g green veg finely chopped (baby spinach, swiss chard, kale, sprouting broccoli etc)
  • 100g packs dried ramen noodles (rice or soba noodles)
  • Handful chopped spring green onions (optional)
  • 1 large carrot, finely sliced with potato peeler, then chopped.

Method, approx 15 mins to make:

  1. Heat the sesame oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and onion and cook for a couple minutes until soft and fragrant. Stir in the soy sauce and mirin and cook for another minute. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the eggs and cook for 8 minutes for a soft yolk. Remove eggs from the pot and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. After a few minutes, peel the shells off carefully and slice the eggs in half, lengthwise. Set aside.
  4. In another pot heat a splash of apple juice or water, add the green veg, cover and cook for several minutes, until just wilted. Remove from the heat.
  5. Add ramen noodles to stock mixture and cook 2-3 minutes or according to package instructions.
  6. Divide the soup into 2 large bowls.
  7. Decorate the top with egg, veg, carrots and green onions, don’t stir the fun is picking it as you eat, serve and enjoy.

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