Lentil Ragu

I love a good pasta dish. I also love the great Italian sauces. I made a bolognese recipe with lentils. Now I want to do a ragu. Now I’m not talking about the spaghetti sauce in a jar under the same name. I am talking about the Italian meat sauce that it really flavorful. I was inspired to try this by a recipe I ran across from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken for a Lentil Ragu. I love the recipe, but it is missing some nutritional value and some of the basic ingredients of a ragu sauce. These are namely onions, carrots, celery, and red wine. One thing the recipe does have is plenty of flavor otherwise. The nutritional yeast adds tons of flavor and B vitamins. They also do great with the other umami ingredients to replace the meat. However, I will be replacing the tomato and making a pumpkin ragu. I will be adding in the traditional ragu ingredients back in the dish. Here are the original stats:

As you can see the sodium is a bit high.  The vitamin’s A and C as well as protein are a bit low.  The rest looks pretty good.  Here’s what I changed:

  • I replaced the vegetable broth with a low sodium variety.
  • I replaced the soy sauce with a low sodium variety
  • I replaced the tomato sauce with pumpkin puree to increase the vitamin A.
  • I added in a carrot to increase the vitamin A and stick to the traditional recipe.
  • I am adding in red wine to stick to the traditional recipe.
  • I am adding in an onion to stick to the traditional recipe
  • I am adding in red bell pepper to increase the vitamin C.
  • I am adding in two block of tofu to increase the protein
  • I increased the serving from 6 to 8 to decrease the calories.
  • I am using zucchini noodles to keep the calories down below 300.

Here are the final stats:

Here is the final recipe

Lentil Ragu

Serves 8

  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 14oz packages of extra-firm tofu, pressed and cubed
  • 1 can pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1.25 cup red lentils
  • 125mL red table wine
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce (gluten-free if preferred)
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 lb zucchini noodles
  1. Spray a large saucepan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat.  Add in the carrot, onion, red bell pepper and celery and cook until softened.
  2. Add the cubed tofu and brown on all sides
  3. Add the pumpkin puree, vegetable broth, and lentils to a large skillet or saucepan. Cover and bring to a simmer stirring gently every now and then. Simmer covered for about 10 minutes until the lentils are tender.
  4. Finish the sauce by stirring in the walnuts, wine and all of the seasonings.
  5. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.  Saute the zucchini noodles until just cooked.
  6. You can either toss the hot pasta with the sauce, or spoon the sauce over top of the pasta. 
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