Budget Lentil Bolognese

Because I work shifts I have to meal prep or else spend a fortune for a salad from the nearby shop.  From this necessity has come a wide range of very cheap, cheerful and nutritious meals that keep, freeze, travel and re-heat very well.  This bolognese is no exception.  It has everything from your greens to your protein and back again and all for €5.50 for more than 5 portions!  Bonus points for being completely cruelty free!

You will need:

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  • 2 red onions, diced
  • 1 bulb of garlic, minced
  • 2 birds eye chillies, deseeded and chopped (optional
  • 2 cans green lentils, rinsed and drained (you could make this cheaper by soaking and cooking your own from dried)
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning (or mixed herbs)
  • 2 tbsp stock powder
  • 1 handful of spinach per person
  • 2 carrots, diced finely
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced finely
  • 1 courgette, diced roughly
  • 1 pepper, diced

How to make it:

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Begin by water-frying the onion and garlic until translucent-ish.  As always you can oil fry if you’d like.  You could also “stock-fry” at this stage, but I prefer to wait and add the stock at the next step in this recipe, it’s up to you!

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Next, add in the carrots, chillies and celery – yours is allowed to be fresh and green, mine was quite old and sorry-looking at this stage!  Mix up your stock powder with about 300ml boiling water (or use 300ml pre-prepared stock) and top with the tomato puree before mixing well.

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Saute for another 5-7 mins until the carrots are fork-tender, then mix in the herbs and lentils until coated in the base sauce.

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Mix through the tinned tomatoes and herbs, then top with the courgette and pepper.  Don’t mix these in!  You can use any vegetables (as always), I was going for a range of colours in this meal – hence the red, yellow and green!  Return to a low heat and allow the pepper and courgette to steam for 5mins, covered.

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Next, pour over another 300ml of boiling water, mix thoroughly and simmer on a medium-low heat until the sauce reduces down by 1/4.

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This next part needs to be done in stages – unless you have a massive pot!  I also like to chop my spinach, that way it doesn’t all gloop together in clumps.  Add a handful of spinach at a time to the pan, returning to the heat and allowing to wilt down before adding the next handful.  Repeat until all the spinach is used up.

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Once the spinach is all wilted down into the bolognese, return to the heat – only if you need to reduce the liquid again after the spinach.  Because it’s cooked in, the spinach unfortunately loses it’s vibrancy in the dish, but the nutrients are still there!

Now that your cheap and cheerful vegan bolognese is prepared, boil up your favourite – or cheapest – pasta, season and plate up!  This kept me full for the rest of the day after my break in work, and tasted SO GOOD!  Definitely one to try out, I’ll for sure be making this time and time again!

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Let me know if you try this recipe by commenting down below and tagging me on Instagram!  If you have any suggestions on ways you improved this recipe or your own little additions, please share!  Also feel free to share/pin this recipe on Pinterest!

 

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