Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lentil Bolognese with Cashew Parmesan

We are a pasta loving family! And sometimes when it gets chilly and windy, a nice bowl of warm and hearty pasta just hits the spot.

There are so many reasons I love making pasta sauce! For one, you can pretty much add any vegetable you want (kale anyone?). If chopped small enough and covered in sauce, its a great way to get your kids (or a picky husband) to eat their veggies!! A great substitute for ground meat, lentils are very hearty and packed with protein. I have several variations for this recipe, but I chose the easiest one for you today. From start to finish, it shouldn't take you more than 30 minutes.

A quick note about the pasta choice. I have found that a whole wheat spaghetti works great for this sauce for its heartiness and density. It holds up well to the thick sauce. You can certainly use any pasta you love in substitution. If you need a gluten free option, try not to overcook the pasta so it stays firm and not mushy.

And NO pasta is the same without some melt-in-your-mouth cashew parmesan. 3 ingredients and one minute later is all it takes to dig into this...YUM! I could eat it straight from the spoon. Oh wait, I already DO!

Ingredients for Lentil Bolognese
1 box whole wheat spaghetti (or other preferred pasta)
1 jar favorite marinara sauce (I love Amy's Family Marinara)
1 15oz can cooked lentils.
You can also find vacuum sealed, steamed and ready to eat lentils at places like Trader Joes or Gelsons in the produce section. OR if you are feeling extra brave, you can cook your own lentils. Use 1/2 cup dried greed lentils and follow directions on the package.

1 15 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 medium sized carrot, chopped
1 medium sized zucchini, chopped
About 10 white mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
Vegetable stock for sauteing
salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for Cashew Parmesan
1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt

Cook pasta of choice according to its directions.
While the water is boiling for your noodles, prepare your veggies. Chop your onion, carrot, zucchini and mushrooms all into about quarter inch pieces. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and add about 1/2 cup of vegetable stock. Add your chopped veggies and cook until soft (about 10 minutes). Turn your heat down to medium low add the chopped tomatoes (with its juice) and the lentils to your pan and stir to combine and let simmer for a few minutes. Lastly, add your jar of marinara sauce and chopped parsley and stir everything together. The longer the sauce sits and simmers, the more the flavors will come together.

In a food processor, combine cashews, nutritional yeast and salt. Blend until soft and fluffy (1-2 minutes).

When your pasta is done, drain and serve with a heaping serving of sauce on top and your cashew parmesan on the side.

Baby Modification (9 mos+): Take a small serving of pasta and sauce and combine in a blender. Now everyone can eat together!

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