Lentils are low in fat, high in protein and fiber. Great for packed lunches, the sauce freezes well, so feel free to double the recipe and freeze half for future yummy meals. Also, the sauce tastes better a day after it’s made!
Makes 5 1/2 cups or 5 to 7 servings
1/2 cup dry shiitake mushrooms (about 9 small pieces) or use 3/4 cup fresh mushrooms in step 5
1/2 cup dry brown or green lentils or use 1 1/2 cups cooked / canned lentils (rinsed and drained) in step 5
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onions, small dice
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup carrots, small dice
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dry rosemary
1 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp dry thyme
1 tsp ground anise or fennel seed (NOT star anise) or more rosemary, oregano, or thyme
1 800 gram can of diced or crushed tomatoes
1 tsp sweetener, optional
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
Salt, pepper, and optional chili flakes to taste
- Place the dry mushrooms in a bowl and cover with hot water. Let sit for 30-45 minutes until fully rehydrated. Squeeze out the excess liquid and slice the mushrooms thinly. Set the mushroom soaking liquid aside for the sauce.
- Meanwhile, cook the lentils: place the dry lentils in a saucepan and cover with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer on low for 25 minutes until tender and cooked through. Rinse and drain thoroughly.
- Warm the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt, pepper, and optional chili flakes; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and slightly browned for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until golden. Stir in the carrots, herb mix, and another pinch of salt. If things start to stick to the bottom, deglaze with the mushroom soaking liquid – add a splash and scrape the bottom of the pan.
- Add the mushrooms, lentils, canned tomatoes, and another pinch of salt. Bring to a boil then decrease heat to low and simmer for at least 20 minutes up to an hour, stirring occasionally until cooked through.
- Remove from heat. Stir in the sweetener and basil, and adjust seasonings accordingly. Serve with your favorite cooked pasta.
- You can prep the mushrooms and lentils in advance to speed up the sauce cooking process. Store the soaked mushrooms and lentils in the refrigerator.
- Use a julienne slicer or spiralizer to make noodles out of raw veggies like: zucchini, carrot, singkamas, or beets. Make your pasta meal healthier by substituting half of the noodles with veggie noodles.