Veg bolognaise

This is another quick, wholesome recipe and one of our staples when we run out of other ingredients. It doesn’t look all that impressive, but it is as good as any classic meat bolognaise. Probably better because it isn’t dripping with dead things.


  • 1 onion (in this case I used a red one)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 small chillies (I usually use the red birds eye bombs from the garden, but it is the wrong season)
  • honey (optional)
  • 1 tin of tomatoes (I prefer fresh tomatoes but they are so kak at the moment)
  • fresh herbs (if you only have dried, then it will also suffice)
  • dash red wine / balsamic (optional)
  • frozen peas
  • 1 cup dried lentils (brown or red) / 1 tin brown lentils
  • pasta

The lentils take the longest to cook so start boiling them with some veg stock and freshly chopped garlic before cooking everything else.

Chop and fry the onions in some olive oil. Add the chillies and finally when the onion is nicely browned, add the garlic. I like caramelising the garlic in honey. Then add the tomatoes. When tomatoes are in season I use fresh ones, but at the moment they are in a sorry state and the tinned tomatoes are much tastier. Go for whole-peeled. I like to add some red wine or balsamic at this stage.

I have some delicious thyme growing in my garden at the moment. So tiny and fine and flavourful. The sauce is equally as delicious with fresh rosemary, oreganum or basil. I grabbed a handful and chucked it in. Much to the horror of my sister, and quite a few of my friends, I really really like peas. In the interest of putting something green into the sauce, I added some frozen peas. This is totally optional. By this stage, the lentils should be soft and ready to be drained. When they are drained, add to the tomato sauce and cook together while you prepare the pasta.

I like spaghetti with this dish, but Dean has some kind of childhood scar and prefers anything not spaghetti. Luckily we had a few wholewheat screws left over from our blue cheese pasta feast. We boiled them up with some olive oil and salt until al dente.

Being a cheese junkie, I smothered mine in mature cheddar. I look forward to the day that South African cheese makers lose the bright orange dye though.

Vegan version: don’t smother the dish with cheese and make sure you get a vegan pasta.

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