Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Easy Lentil Spaghetti Sauce

With all the busy hustle and bustle of starting up again in the New Year, it can sometimes be challenging to create healthy, yet convenient meals for the family. This time of year, we often also have our budgets in mind after holiday spending.  I love this lentil pasta sauce for its taste, nutrition, convenience and cost savings. This recipe is modelled after a traditional ground beef spaghetti sauce, although it packs a little extra nutritional punch with lentils added rather than hamburger. 

What are lentils? 
Lentils are a great addition to many recipes as they take on the flavour from the other seasonings in your dish. Lentils are a legume and are most commonly found in the brown, red, and green varieties. You can buy dried lentils in the grocery store usually near the rice. You may also purchase canned lentils (although beware of the sodium content - it is best to choose low sodium options). 

What are lentils good for?

Weight management: Lentils are an excellent source of fibre and protein, which can help keep you fuller for longer 
Lowering cholesterol: The soluble fibre found in lentils has also been shown to be helpful in lowering cholesterol
Diabetes management: Lentils are a low glycemic index (GI) food and are loaded with fibre, meaning they will not rapidly spike your blood sugar!

How to Prepare:

Of all the pulses, lentils are one of the quickest to prepare as they do not need to be soaked before cooking. 

1) Rinse lentils with water 
2) Cook using a 3:1 water ratio ( 3 cups water per 1 cup of lentils) 
3) Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until tender (usually about 20 minutes for whole (not split) lentils). Read the packaging for more precise cooking times. 
4) Strain, season, and enjoy!

If using canned lentils, simply remove from the can and place lentils in a colander. Rinse with water to remove some of the salt content. You are then ready to add them to the dish of your choosing!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes 

- 1 cup lentils (dry) or ~2 (540mL) cans of lentils 
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced 
- 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 medium size onion, diced
- 1 cup of mushrooms, chopped
- 1/2 medium sized zucchini, chopped
- 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes (low sodium varieties are best)
- 1/4 cup water   
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- 1 Tbsp basil 
- Salt (~1 tsp) and pepper (~2 tsp) to taste 


1) In a medium sized pot, cook lentils in 3 cups of boiling water until tender (~20 minutes). *(note: if using canned lentils, skip this step and simply drain and rinse canned lentils). Once lentils are done, drain from water. 

2) Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and add garlic, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, and zucchini. Sauté vegetables for approximately 5 minutes, until tender. 

Stir in lentils, crushed tomatoes, water, oregano, basil, and salt/pepper to vegetable mixture. Simmer over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Serve over your favourite pasta and enjoy!

This sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or frozen for future use. 

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