By Mona Dolgov
As the winter chill approaches, if you are like me, I yearn for a warm, hearty thick sauce or stew for dinner. The secret to heartiness is combining different textural ingredients with a flavorful vegetable sauce blended with warm and savory spices.
One of my favorite tips and tricks in eating a more satisfying plant-based meal is to make a goal to have your meal contain a variety of at least 2-3 cups of vegetables. I select vegetables with different textures and flavors, and even use color as a guide to ensure I am getting a combination of phytonutrients. The other big bonus is that you are adding extra fiber to your meal, which provides satiety and is also good for your heart and your gut.
But, what amazes me most about creating nutrient-dense plant-based meals is the generous portion size. A balanced plant-based meal with a variety of vegetables, plant-based proteins and a mindful portion of whole grains (1/2-1 cup cooked) will result in a bountiful plate or bowl.
Ready for a plant-based Bolognese? Red lentils and roughly chopped mushrooms replace meat to create a hearty and “meat-like” texture. Plus, tomatoes are simmered with a combination of fresh and dried herbs for richness and flavor, and the addition of carrot will provide a natural sweetness and help to reduce acidity.
I recommend serving the Bolognese over a combination of zucchini noodles and gluten-free pasta. This lightens up the “pasta load”, and adds another extra cup of vegetables for your meal! Plus, try one of the bean pastas, like black bean or chickpea pasta, too—this will add more protein and fiber!
The end result of this amazing meal? Big on flavor and big on fiber (16.5 grams), low in fat, no added sugars, and a satisfying amount of protein (26 grams)!
Dig in! This is sure to become one of your new weekly staples.
Yield 4 Servings
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 1/2 cups dried red lentils
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 (26 to 28-ounce) carton or can chopped tomatoes
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 ounces gluten free pasta
- 4 zucchini, spiralized
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
- Add the mushrooms, onion, carrots, and garlic and sauté until the vegetables begin to sweat, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in lentils, vegetable stock, chopped tomatoes, basil, and Mediterranean Spice Blend and bring up to a simmer.
- Reduce heat to low (just enough to maintain a simmer) and, stirring occasionally, let cook 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
- Stir in tomato paste and, stirring frequently, let cook 3 additional minutes before seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
- As the sauce cooks, boil the spaghetti according to the package directions, adding zucchini in the last minute of the cook time to heat through. Drain and serve topped with the Bolognese sauce.
- If the final sauce is still a bit acidic for your taste, simply stir in a pinch of baking soda, which will foam up as it cuts some of the acid from the tomatoes, leaving you with their natural flavor and sweetness.
Boston-based nutritionist and cookbook author, Mona Dolgov lives her lifelong mission to create easy, delicious and helpful recipes, products, tips and hacks that will help others to adopt a healthier lifestyle. As a culinary food strategist, she loves taking new approaches to classic recipes to make them trendy, simple and better for you. After working behind the scenes to publish over 30 cookbooks for her clients, she is excited to take all of her knowledge she has gained, and has authored two cookbooks of her own, including The Perfect Portion Cookbook and, now, satisfy.
Mona’s new cookbook, satisfy, includes this recipe and more delicious plant-forward, nutrient-dense and gluten-free recipes. You can order this cookbook and find more delicious recipes and tips at www.monadolgov.com