Vegetarian Bolognese on Brown Rice Pasta

Tonight’s Menu: Protein packed vegetarian bolognese on brown rice penne pasta (spiked with turkey sausage for us meat eaters)

I love a good meat sauce but let’s be honest, Nona’s classic can be loaded with fat and calories. Although I have a few favorite lower fat recipes made with extra-lean beef, this one made with lentils is a great alternative and contains less guilt. Plus, vegetarian friendly for all our meat-free friends.
Good-to-know: Lentils are packed full of cholesterol-lowering fiber making them a great choice for those with blood-sugar disorders as they prevent blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal. Also great for those watching their waistlines as they are high in protein and low in calories, only 230 calories for a whole cup of cooked lentils.

Serves 4
Prep time: 15 mins. | Cook time: 30 mins.

1/2 c. red lentils (rinsed)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion (diced)
1 red pepper (sliced)
1 green pepper (sliced)
10 mushrooms (sliced)
2 celery stalks (sliced)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
6 oz can tomato paste
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 x 14 oz can diced tomatoes
5  basil leaves (chiffonade)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cinnamon
1 c. vegetable stock
3 turkey sausage (cooked and thinly sliced) OPTIONAL

Cover lentils with water and boil for 15 minutes, then drain and set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet, add onions, peppers and mushrooms and cook until slightly softened, about 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes or so. Add tomato paste, mixing in well with the garlic and onions. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan frequently, so the tomato paste is cooked but not burning.

Add the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, deglazing the bottom of the pan a bit. Add diced tomatoes, herbs, paprika and broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add lentils (and sausage if desired)  and reduce to a low simmer for about 25 minutes, until liquids are reduced and mixture is thickened, stirring occasionally. Add the cinnamon and season to taste with S&P.

Serve over cooked brown rice pasta or your pasta of choice.

Buon appetito! xO


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