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Lentil Mushroom Bolognese

Karlene Karst

Typically made from a blend of ground meat and sautéed vegetables, Bolognese is a classic dish that never disappoints. This plant-rich version calls for earthy mushrooms, toasted walnuts, and sautéed vegetables to create a meatlike texture, as well as protein- and fiber-rich red lentils. As the combination simmers, the flavors meld together, resulting in a dish that’s ideal for Sunday dinners and weeknight meals alike.

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden brown. Set aside.

2. Heat the remaining oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring until fragrant. Lower the heat to medium, then add the carrot, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, chili flakes (if using), and herbs. Sauté for 7 to 8 minutes while stirring.

3. Add the tomato paste, browning it just a bit. Add the tomatoes and their juices; cook them down for just a few minutes.

4. Add the cooked mushrooms, lentils, miso paste, vegetable stock, and ground toasted walnuts. Bring to a boil, cover tightly, lower the heat to low, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Uncover.

5. Continue cooking uncovered until most of the liquid has cooked off. Taste and adjust the salt, pepper, and chili flakes to your liking. Keep in mind that you’ll want it just slightly salty if tossing it with pasta (you could add more miso for extra saltiness).

6. Cook the pasta as instructed on the package until al dente, then drain. Pour the Bolognese over the pasta, give it a toss, and garnish with the basil leaves.