Travel, Cooking, Doing, Eating and Drinking (that about covers it)

Red Lentil Ragu

Happy New Year! Welcome, 2017! Hello from post number 100!

After the holiday season of non-stop eating and drinking, I’m sure that I’m not alone in wanting to put some lighter-calorie meals on the menu!

Italians are extremely passionate about their food. It’s one of the many reasons why Italian food is so fabulous. I read an article recently about Italian food purists getting upset over a New York Times recipe for “White Bolognese”. The food purists were upset that “real” Bolognese would never be white and would always have tomatoes in it. In fact, there is not such thing as Bolognese sauce in Bologna, where it was invented. It is simply called sauce Ragu. (You can read about the outrage here.)

Keeping this in mind, when I looked at doing a vegetarian version of this classic and absolutely delicious Italian dish, I steered clear of the word Bolognese. Since I’m looking to lighten things up for the start of the year, I turned to Red Lentils.

Red Lentils are a great source of protein and fibre and are great for the budget. They are also extremely good for the waistline. Using your slow cooker for this “Dinner While You Work” meal lets you come home to a great smelling house and a great tasting meal!

Prep time: 10 minutes; Cook time: 10 minutes & 6+ hours slow cooking; Serves: 4 – 6 people; Calories: 158 (4 servings) – 109 (6 servings)

What you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed, but not soaked
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups porcini mushroom stock (or vegetarian, beef or chicken stock)
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 2 ribs celery, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced (I used pre-sliced Cremini mushrooms)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1/2 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 cup red wine (or 1/4 cup good quality red wine vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (please use good quality balsamic vinegar)
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (not shown, for topping)
  • My Go-To Spice Mix (to taste)

What you do:

  • In a large frypan, add the olive oil and over medium-high heat, sauté onions,
    garlic, carrots and celery about 2-3 minutes until onions are soft
Sauté onions, garlic, carrots, celery
  • Add the mushrooms and cook another 3- 5 minutes
Add mushrooms
  • Add the basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, dried rosemary and cook 1 minute
Add the basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, dried rosemary
  • Add the red wine and balsamic vinegar and cook 1 minute, scraping up the bottom of the pan
Add red wine and balsamic vinegar
  • Add to contents of the frying pan to the slow cooker
Add to the slow cooker
  • Add the red lentils
Add the red lentils
  • Add the crushed tomatoes and porcini (vegetable/beef/chicken) stock
Add crushed tomatoes and stock
  • Stir
  • Cover and cook on low for 6+ hours (if you want to thin it out a bit, add a splash of water)
Taste and adjust salt and pepper
  • Taste, adjust salt and pepper as necessary

  • Serve over hot cooked pasta and top with fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and My Go-To Spice Mix. (You can also serve it with bread or rice.)

8 thoughts on “Red Lentil Ragu”

  • Excellent! I made this twice. The first time I used cheap balsamic vinegar and cheap red wine vinegar and it was way too “vinegary”. So I made it again with a bit less than 1/4 cup cheap balsamic + 2 tablespoons of brown sugar (to make up for the cheap vinegar) and skipped the red wine / red wine vinegar. Most excellent!!! and easy to make.

  • This is going into the meal rotation – with a few tweaks. I should have read the comment to use high quality balsamic, which, you would think is a no brainer. And I will reduce slightly the amount of red wine vinegar, or use red wine next time. I’m loving these cook while you work recipes.

  • Love this recipe! Very easy to make and super filling! A nice alternative to meat sauce and it freezes well! The recipe makes at least 6 servings! Thanks for the great idea! Will definitely make this one again!

Tell me what you think!