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Fusilli Lentil-Mushroom Bolognese

By on April 1, 2017

I came up with this recipe one rainy fall evening. We were looking for comfort food, something that came together quickly and would “stick to our bones.” Well, comfort food this certainly is, and it turned out to be one of the biggest hits of all the recipes I’ve created, adored by adults, kids, toddlers, and teenagers alike! This pasta dish makes a huge pot and we always enjoy the leftovers—straight from the fridge or
warmed up—the next day. Traditional Bolognese is a meat-based sauce, but my version uses lentils for a high-fiber, plant-based twist. The “secret” ingredient—tahini—gives it an unexpected, but delicious, creaminess.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium sweet onion, diced (about
2 cups/500 mL)

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon (1 to 4 mL) fine sea salt, to taste, plus a pinch

16 ounces (450 g) sliced cremini mushrooms

1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried oregano, or to taste

1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried basil, or to taste

1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried thyme

14 ounces (400 g) fusilli pasta (about
61/2 cups/1.625 L uncooked pasta)

3 cups (750 mL) Fail-Proof Marinara Sauce (page 175) or store-bought chunky marinara sauce

1 (14-ounce/398 mL) can lentils, drained and rinsed, or 11/2 cups (375 mL) cooked lentils

3/4 cup (175 mL) jarred roasted red pepper, drained and chopped

2 tablespoons (30 mL) “runny” tahini
(see Tip)

1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) red pepper flakes (optional, but recommended)

Directions

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.

2. In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt and stir. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onion is softened.

3. Stir in the mushrooms, oregano, basil, and thyme and cook for 7 to 8 minutes over medium-high heat, until most of the water cooks off.

4. When the water for the pasta boils, add the pasta and cook until al dente, following package directions.

5. Into the pot with the mushrooms, stir in the marinara sauce, lentils, roasted red pepper, and tahini until combined. Make sure you stir well to fully incorporate  the tahini. Simmer over medium heat, uncovered, for a few more minutes.
 
6. Drain the pasta and rinse it with cold water to halt the cooking process. Stir the pasta into the lentil-veggie mixture until thoroughly combined. Taste and season with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using). Heat for a couple of minutes, or until heated throughout. Serve and enjoy. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. The leftovers are even delicious chilled, straight from the fridge! You can also freeze the cooled pasta in an airtight container or a freezer-safe zip-top bag with the air pressed out for 2 to 3 weeks. After thawing, add a splash of marinara and seasonings to the pasta while reheating to freshen it up.

Tips
I recommend using a “runny” tahini so it easily mixes into the pasta. Avoid using the firm and dry tahini you often find at the bottom of a jar. To save on prep time, you can buy presliced mushrooms. Make it gluten-free. Use gluten-free pasta. Make it kid-friendly. Reduce the mushrooms  by half and chop them very small (think smaller than pea size) so they disappear into the pasta. The mushrooms will be undetectable, but your meal will still retain its immune-boosting benefits!

Excerpted from “Oh She Glows Every Day” by Angela Liddon. Copyright © 2016 Glo Bakery Corporation. Photography by Ashley McLaughlin. Published by Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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