Who doesn’t know how to make a vegan spag bol? Well, quite a lot of people it seems, if the frequency with which I’ve had to give out this recipe over the years is anything to go by. So I’ve decided to make it truly public for once and all.
Of course, like any good recipe, this one has changed and matured over the years, and I would be disappointed if you didn’t tweak it a bit. All the flavourings are optional: if you don’t like chilli, wine, olives, sundried tomatoes, oregano – just substitute with something you do like. But really, don’t mess with the olive oil-onion-garlic-tomato base, and if you put in pretend mince instead of lentils, don’t blame me.
The key is great flavours, and a good long cooking time, to allow the acidic tomatoes to sweeten and intensify. The lentils will cook quicker and be easier to digest if you soak them overnight, but it is not essential. I like to use a mixture of French puy lentils, which are small and green, and keep their shape when cooked, and the larger brown or green lentils, which turn to a mush more easily.
Of course, serve this on top of spaghetti, with vegan parmesan if you like.
By the way, do you know how to test if spaghetti is cooked to perfection? Just pull a piece out of the pot and throw it at the wall – if it sticks, it’s ready, if it falls off, cook a bit more. This is why pasta is fun.
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
12 olives, chopped
12 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped or 1 t dried marjoram or oregano
1 mild chilli, chopped (optional)
300g green or brown lentils, soaked overnight
two tins of chopped tomatoes
a glass of red wine
2 cups (500 ml) vegetable stock
Cook onion in oil until very soft.
Add garlic, olives and sundried tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring.
Add herbs and chilli, if using. Stir for a minute or so.
Add lentils, tins of tomatoes, wine and stock, stirring it all in.
Bring to the boil and then simmer for at least an hour, until the sauce has thickened, looks glossy and smells delicious.
Serve with spaghetti (of course) and vegan parmesan (if you like).
To speed up this recipe, you can boil the lentils for half an hour in water before adding to the recipe. Alternatively, use 2 cans brown lentils.