My goodness how time flies. One day it is the middle of cold winter next it is sunny spring! Some days are also like that, over in the blink of an eye and putting a delicious meal on the table for dinner feels like a feat. On nights like that there is nothing better then a quick, comforting bowl of pasta.
I love pasta, honestly if I could I would eat it everyday and for every meal. There is so much that can be done with it too. Do you want to bake it, fry it, coat in butter and garlic or a hearty meat sauce? Really what cannot be done with pasta. Not only that but pasta itself comes in so many different shapes and styles. Spaghetti, lasagna, penne, macaroni, gnocchi, and so much more that just listing the varieties would end up taking one page!
I myself am more inclined to penne, fusilli, and spaghetti. Back when I did eat cheese and was in university one of my go-to meals was baked penne or fusilli prepared similarly to baked ziti. It was quick, yummy and just what I needed after a long day of classes discussing the bones of the inner ear or vampire popularity in films (seriously this was really one of my classes).
Now that I no longer eat dairy, it is harder to enjoy a bowl of pasta smothered in a cheesy tomato sauce. However, that will not stop me from enjoying healthy, gluten free and vegan pasta.
In the past I had heard about walnuts being an excellent mimic for ground beef and having recently used it for my Pumpkin Pie crust I had plenty leftover so saw it as an opportunity to try this theory out for myself.
Instead of trying to make something fancy, mainly because I wanted to offer a quick recipe that could be whipped up in thirty minutes, I decided to go with a simple bolognese sauce. To top it off I made some cashew parmesan to make it more authentic and give it a cheese-like taste.
Traditionally, bolognese sauce is made up of two or three different types of meat, usually pork, beef and veal so I decided to use walnuts, mushrooms and red lentils. Some recipes also say to use milk, whilst others say to use beef stock so it really depends on your preference and for those out there who shout at me that garlic is never used in bolognese sauce you would be right, I just prefer it.
This recipe is itself versatile and can be played around with to make it your own happy meal that you will come back to time after time. Some variations that you could do would be to exclude the walnuts and add tofu, vegetables, or meat. You can also add some heat to the dish with chilli flakes or a dash of hot sauce. If you want to make it cheesier you can easily incorporated your favourite type of cheese and spoon the sauce over your favourite type of pasta, or use another grain such as quinoa or rice.
- 2 good handfuls pasta, I used spaghetti (I know, I know not the traditional noodle for this dish but what I had on hand)
- 1 Can crushed tomatoes
- 2 Cloves garlic, minced (optional)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 Carrot, diced
- 2 Stalks celery, diced
- 8 mushrooms, minced
- ¼ Cup crushed walnuts
- ¼ Cup red lentils
- ¼ cup non-dairy milk or vegetable stock
- ½ Cup white or red wine (optional)
- 2 Tbsp vegan butter
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ½ Cup raw cashews
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- ¼ Tsp salt
- Blitz cashews, salt and nutritional yeast together in blender/food processor until it turns into a crumble. Set to side.
- Preheat pan with 2 tbsp olive oil on medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, pinch of salt and garlic. Sauté and cook for 5 minutes. Add 2 tbsp butter, toss to coat then turn heat to simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Add walnuts, lentils, mushrooms, nutmeg and milk. Simmer for ten minutes or until milk is almost dissolved.
- Add wine, tomatoes and pinch of pepper. Simmer while pasta cooks.
- Cook pasta in a pot of salted water until al dente. Drain and rinse before adding to sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Plate and sprinkle with the cashew parmesan and serve immediately.