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A plate of bolognese sprinkled with feta cheese and fresh basil

Beef and Lentil Bolognese (Speedy!)

Easy, healthy and delicious! This speedy beef and lentil bolognese take just 25 minutes from start to finish, making it the perfect mid-week dinner. Lentils not only are filled with fibre and lots of good nutrients (iron, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and potassium), they also take on flavours really well!
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Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Western
Keyword: beef and lentil bolognese
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 544kcal
Author: Genevieve

Ingredients

  • 300 g / 10 ounce dried spaghetti

Bolognese

  • 250 g / ½ pound beef mince
  • 1 can lentil drained, net weight is about 235g/ 8oz (note 1)
  • 2 cans whole tomatoes
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ tablespoon soy sauce substitute: worcestershire sauce (note 2)
  • ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper

To serve

  • 100 g / 3.5 ounce feta cheese about ½ cup
  • a handful of fresh basil

Instructions

Making the bolognese

  • In a large pan, add olive oil and garlic. Sizzle on medium heat until lightly golden.
  • Add beef mince, lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook on high heat until brown. Add balsamic vinegar and reduce. (note 3)
  • Reduce heat to medium. Add lentil, stir through then add canned tomatoes, sugar, dried oregano, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Break the tomatoes apart with a spatula into small pieces. Bring up to boil then reduce to a simmer.
  • Taste bolognese and adjust for seasoning if necessary. Mix in half a handful of torn fresh basil. Simmer for 10 minutes, no lid.
  • Whilst bolognese is simmering away, cook spaghetti according to packet instructions. Remember to heavily season the water with salt.

To serve

  • Drain and add spaghetti into the bolognese, mix well.
  • To serve, sprinkle with crumbled feta and fresh basil.

Notes

Note 1. Canned lentils are the convenient and easy choice. Just drain with a large sieve and you're ready to rock and roll. If using dried lentils, soak according to packet instructions or overnight before using. You can cook with unsoaked lentils however it'll add about 30 minutes to cooking time. But then, this defeats the purpose of a speedy dinner!
Note 2. Soy sauce is used to add complexity and depth of flavour to this bolognese. Don't worry, we're only using a tiny amount so you won't be able to taste the soy sauce at all. If you're still sceptical (don't!), use worcestershire sauce instead.  
Note 3. Season the beef as soon as it touches the pan and brown. So this means whilst it's still proper raw. It's much harder to get salt into meats once it's cooked - yes, even minced meats. So give it some salt lovin at this stage! Browning on high heat adds complexity and depth to meats (colour = flavour!). Sizzling and reducing the balsamic vinegar elevates its flavours!
Heavily season the pasta cooking water. Like what Samin Nosrat says, make sure the water is salty like the ocean. No boring, flavourless pasta here!
Leftovers/freezing Lasts up to 3 days in the fridge. For freshness, keep the feta cheese and fresh basil separately. Freezing: safely, up to about 3 months. However, to keep the flavours fresh and tasting delish, up to 1 month. 
Tried this recipe?Mention @Casuallypeckish or tag #casuallypeckish!

Nutrition

Calories: 544kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 32.6g | Fat: 17.8g | Saturated Fat: 5.1g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Potassium: 448mg | Fiber: 5.7g | Sugar: 3.6g | Calcium: 171mg | Iron: 5mg