This post is actually a visit to a recipe that I posted a year ago that I plan to make tonight. I’ve been thinking about ways to incorporate protein rich ingredients into meatless dishes. Lentils fit that bill. They are packed with fiber and protein, and have enough texture to take the place of meat in the sauce.
Using spiralized zucchini as a base adds another vegetable instead of a starch. You can also combine zucchini strands with angel hair pasta if you prefer. In either case, this would be a satisfying dish for vegan or vegetarian friends.
We are not new to lentils. I make lentil soup quite a bit. We also have a combination of lentils and vegetables as a side dish for fish. But when I came across a recipe for lentils in a sauce over pasta, it occurred to me that putting lentils over spiralized zucchini noodles would be a win-win. I wasn’t excited about the new recipe that I read, but I had a tried and true recipe in my arsenal that I felt would work, and it did!
I’ve been making adapted versions of Ina Garten’s Lentil Soup and Salmon with Lentils for years. The fact that her recipe contains classic “Bolognese” ingredients like celery, carrots, onions, garlic, and tomato paste, in addition to the lentils, made it seem like a perfect sauce.
1 cup dried lentils
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups diced onions
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups diced celery
1 1/2 cups diced carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock to keep it vegetarian or vegan)
2-3 TBS tomato paste
2 TBS red wine vinegar
1. Pour the lentils into a bowl. Cover with boiling water for at least 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Saute the onions, thyme, salt and pepper over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic for the last couple of minutes.
3. Add the drained lentils, carrots, celery, stock, and tomato paste. Stir well.
4. Cover the sauté pan and simmer for about 20 minutes until the lentils and vegetables are tender.
5. Add the red wine vinegar. Check for seasoning.
6. Serve over spiralized zucchini. Top with shaved or grated Parmesan cheese.
Use the “spaghetti” blade to make strands, or the slicer blade to make ribbons.
Sprinkle with salt and let drain in a colander for a half hour.
Retain the most crunch by just pouring boiling water over the salted zucchini in the colander and letting it drain.
Or toss the strands in a little olive oil in a pan.
OR to combine zucchini noodles and regular pasta:
1. Spiralize the zucchini using the “spaghetti” blade. Trim to pasta lengths. Set in a colander to drain off some of the natural liquid.
2. Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Break the long strands of spaghetti in halves. Cook the pasta to the al dente stage.
3. When the pasta is done, pour it (water and all) over the zucchini that has been resting in the colander. Once the water drains, return the pasta/zucchini mixture to the pot to keep warm. If you like, you could add a tablespoon or two of pesto to the spaghetti/ zucchini.
Note: This recipe makes enough Bolognese to generously feed four people. If you are serving it over zucchini alone, you’ll need at least four medium zucchini. If you plan to combine pasta and zucchini, two zucchini and a half pound of pasta should be fine.