1 cup dried lentils (preferably brown or green), rinsed
3 medium carrots, well scrubbed and cut into large chunks
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2 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ small onion, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can (28 ounces) no-salt-added crushed tomatoes or 3 cups homemade tomato purée
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 small bunch kale, stems removed and discarded, leaves torn into small pieces (about 3 cups)
½ cup dried quinoa, rinsed well
½ cup red wine
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine the lentils, carrots and water in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low; cover and cook until the lentils are tender, 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour the oil into a medium saute pan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and stir to coat; cook until translucent, 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bell pepper and garlic, stirring to coat; cook until tender, 4 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor.
Once the carrots and lentils are cooked, transfer the carrots from the pot to the food processor, along with the tomatoes or tomato purée, oregano, basil, crushed red pepper flakes and kale. Pulse until mostly smooth.
Add the quinoa and red wine to the pot of lentils, stirring to incorporate; cover and cook until the quinoa grains start to show their white tails, 6 or 7 minutes.
Stir the carrot-kale purée into the lentil-quinoa mixture; cook, covered, over low heat until the sauce melds and heats thoroughly, about 20 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper. Serve hot, or cool completely before storing.
Cook's note: Use this the way you would a meaty Bolognese: over tagliatelle or the pasta of your choice, or in lasagna. You can use a blender instead of a food processor, but that might create more of a homogeneous, greenish sauce rather than one with dark-green flecks.
Nutrition values per serving: 230 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated), 34 g carbohydrates, 11 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 11 g protein, 0 cholesterol, 180 mg sodium.
Adapted from "The Great Vegan Bean Book" by Kathy Hester (Fair Winds Press, 2013)