Although I love cooking, I also love having free time between when the kids come home from school or sport and dinner because with the days so short in winter it’s not hard to get the feeling that there’s just no time especially if you’re spending an hour in the kitchen preparing things and then another hour cooking them.
I love the idea of recipes that you can make up to use as a base in more than one recipe, that you can prepare in advance and or use in a couple of different ways (so you don’t get the “We’re having this a-gain!” complaints).
Bolognese sauce is one of those bases.
I created this recipe a couple of weeks ago and it’s become a go-to favourite (that my fussy son will actually eat!).
I generally make the sauce up on a Sunday (or Friday afternoon) along with some of my Bechamel style sauce from our Lasagne Episode (you can get the recipe here). I generally prepare 1 large lasagne or 2 smaller lasagnes (which roughly equate to one meal each) and then use the left over sauce later in the week (see the Alternative ideas below after the recipe).
Why 1 lasagne or 2 smaller ones?
Generally I prefer the taste and texture of foods cooked “fresh” rather than reheated (eg. in the oven or microwave). So if I know I’ll have the time to cook the lasangne fresh, I’ll make two smaller ones. If I know we’ll be eating it after the mid-week sports training and we won’t have a lot of time once we come home which generally means reheating then I’ll make it in a large oven dish and we’ll eat it on the Sunday night and then just reheat the left-overs later in the week.
Recipe for a “Meaty” Meatless Bolognese Sauce
- 1 40g tomato paste (I use a salt reduced one)
- 2 bottles (700ml) tomato passata
- 1 cup steamed sweet potato (or roasted)
- 1 1/2 cups of water
- 1-2 cloves of grated fresh garlic (you can omit this if you can’t tolerate garlic and instead add some herbs which you like eg. oregano, basil, marjoram)
- 1/2 cup sundried tomato (fully sundried not semi – and I prefer the ones in oil, but you can use either)
- 3/4 – 1 cup walnuts
- 1 400g can brown lentils ( ideally organic BPA free)(rinsed and drained)
- 1 stick of celery finely chopped
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 carrot grated
- optional: apple cider vinegar
- optional: additional veggies eg. diced zucchini, mushroom, capsicum.
- Peel and roughly chop the sweet potato and steam it until it is cooked through. (Alternatively you could place a whole sweet potato in the oven for 1 hour (just pierce it with a fork first) until it is cooked through then once it’s cooked peel it, remove the flesh and mash it up with a fork or with the stick blender -see next step).
- Add the tomato passata to a large sauce pan and add the cooked sweet potato and puree with a stick blender. (Alternatively if you don’t have a deep enough saucepan to do this without getting splashed, you could transfer ~1 cup of tomato passata to a jug suitable for the stick blender with the steamed sweet potato and puree until smooth and then stir it into the remaining tomato passata).
- Add the water to the sauce pan and the garlic (or herbs) if it suits your diet and mix it until it’s smooth.
- To prepare the “meatless mince” add the walnuts, lentils and sundried tomato to a bench top food processor and blend until there are no large pieces of sundried tomato and walnut visible.
- Add the celery, carrot and nutritional yeast and blend again. It’ll begin to resemble a grainy paste.
- Stir the meatless mince through the sauce until it is well mixed in. Add any additional optional veggies to the sauce (diced as these will help to give more height when you use it in a lasagne).
- Bring the sauce to the boil then reduce it to simmer for 30 minutes before assembling your lasagne.
Other ways you could use this sauce:
- On a pizza base
- With pasta (eg. regular, gluten-free or legume based pastas eg. black bean or mung bean fettucini) (I usually add additional veggies in eg. broccoli if I do this)
- With cannelloni
- With rice and veggies
- If you can’t tolerate nuts you could replace the walnuts with sunflower seeds and pepitas (if they suit your diet), and some other ideas listed in this post here.
- If you can’t tolerate tomato you could make Glenys pasta sauce from the Lasagne Episode (get the recipe here).
- You could also use the meatless mince as a base for a meatless meat patty. Check out our BBQ Episode for some ideas.
If you love this idea, check out our Main meals recipes too.