This recipe is cadged from my foodie friend Jane and to say I am pleased with it is a very large understatement. It has been a long-term mission of mine to find a really good, rich, ‘meaty’, vegetarian spag bol sauce that the carnivore son genuinely likes (I’ve tried Quorn mince but he’s not a fan – it’s a texture thing). So here chestnut mushrooms blitzed in the food processor are a great meat stand-in. And before you say anything, no he doesn’t like mushrooms either but the flavour is not at all mushroomy, just rich and tomatoey like a proper ragu should be.
KITCHEN TIME: 10 mins prep, 1 hour cooking
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
200g brown mushrooms (chestnut/Swiss mushrooms), washed
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 700ml bottle good quality passata, like Cirio
½ cup red lentils
1 heaped tsp oregano (or mixed dried herbs)
1 heaped tsp brown sugar
PREP TIP: This recipe really does require a food processor – you can dice the onions and mushrooms by hand but you won’t be able to get them as fine.
METHOD: In a food processor blitz the onions and garlic to a fine mulch. Gently heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion and garlic mixture. Fry gently for a couple of minutes to soften. In the meantime put the mushrooms in the food processor and blitz to small pieces – depending on your kids' tolerance for ‘bits’, you can go chunkier or finer. Add the mushrooms to the pan and continue to fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add the bottle of passata to the pan and then rinse out the bottle with water (fill it about ¾ way full) and then add the tomatoey water to the sauce. Add the remaining ingredients and season well. Now turn the heat right down, place a lid loosely on the pan and simmer for an hour stirring occasionally. Add more water during the cooking process if the sauce is getting too thick.
SERVING TIP: Serve with wholewheat spaghetti and a big bowl of green veg.
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