This meal is the perfect crowd-pleaser when you want a vegetarian main dish. The mushrooms and lentils provide the perfect texture to win over even the most enthusiastic omnivores in your life.
1/3 cup Flourist French Lentils
1.5 cups carrots, chopped finely
1.5 cups celery, chopped finely
2 cups red onion, chopped finely (about 2 medium-large onions)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (feel free to use 1/2 cup if preferred)
3 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
1 tsp salt
25g dried porcini mushrooms
Two sprigs fresh thyme
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup red wine
2 796 ml cans tomatoes
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 KG of dried spaghetti or other long noodles (2 boxes)
Freshly grated parmesan (optional, for serving)
1 cup chopped Castelvetrano Olives (optional, for serving)
First, heat a large pot and once the pot is warm, add the 3/4 cup olive oil (feel free to use as little as 1/2 cup of oil if you prefer) for the Soffritto. Let it warm up and add the chopped onions, carrots, celery bay leaves, rosemary, and salt. Cook over high heat for 5 minutes until the veggies are looking as they are starting to brown and fry. Turn the heat down and cook the mixture for 45 minutes to an hour. This allows the veggies to soften and caramelize.
While the Soffritto simmers, cook the French Lentils by combining with 4 cups of cold water and bringing to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down and simmer the lentils, covered, for 20-25 minutes until soft.
Boil some water and add the dried mushrooms to a bowl. Generously pour hot water over the mushrooms to cover and cover with a plate to trap the heat. Soak the mushrooms to 30 minutes. Once ready, drain the mushrooms and chop finely.
Once the Soffrito is ready, add the tomatoes, chopped mushrooms, cooked lentils, red wine, salt, and sugar. Stir everything together and cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes until hot and the flavours are developed. While the sauce simmers, cook your favourite long noodle pasta.
Pick the thyme leaves into a bowl, add the breadcrumbs and 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, then toss to coat. Toast in a dry frying pan over medium heat until lightly golden, stirring regularly.
Divide cooked pasta between your bowls, sprinkle with the herby breadcrumbs, and serve with optional grated parmesan and chopped olives and serve. This meal feeds 6-8 hungry people easily and makes delicious leftovers.
Note: this recipe was tested using 1.5 cups of olive oil for cooking the Soffritto as per an Italian recipe. It has been edited to include a more modest amount of oil, but please feel free to use more as per your preference.
Want to read more about soffritto? Head here.