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Big Red Vegetarian Pasta Sauce

Serves 4.


    Big Red Vegetarian Pasta Sauce

    How can something so satisfying also be good for you? The full flavour begins with a mirepoix that is gently sautéed until vegetables are very soft and almost caramelized. And the rich red tomatoes and tomato paste are excellent for heart-healthy eating. Double up the recipe and store extras in the freezer for a speedy mid-week supper.


    Wine pairing

    Look for a red wine that is a little more acidic, such as a bottle of Chianti or a Pinot Noir. And if you’re really feeling flush and want to splurge or impress, crack open a bottle of aged Barolo.


    This dish is excellent for vegan diets. Serve with an egg-free pasta or spoon ladles of the Bolognese over wedges of roasted butternut squash for extra yum!


    Big Red Vegetarian Pasta Sauce


    • 1/2 cup (125 mL) dried green lentils, rinsed and drained
    • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra
    • 1/2 large sweet onion, peeled and finely diced
    • 2 large carrots, scrubbed or peeled and finely diced
    • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
    • 3 large garlic cloves, smashed and minced
    • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) tomato paste
    • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) balsamic vinegar or full-bodied red wine
    • 28 oz (796 mL) can plum tomatoes, including juice
    • 1/2 cup (125 mL) low-sodium vegetable stock
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
    • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) minced fresh oregano
    • 1 tsp (5 mL) maple syrup
    • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) sea salt, plus extra
    • 1/2 lb (250 g) pkg pappardelle noodles or gluten-free pasta
    • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) minced fresh basil
    • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) pine nuts, toasted
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • Crushed red chilies (optional)


    Per serving:

    • calories301
    • protein11g
    • fat11g
      • saturated fat2g
      • trans fat0g
    • carbohydrates40g
      • sugars6g
      • fibre5g
    • sodium341mg



    In medium-sized saucepan, cover lentils with 3 cups (750 mL) cold water. Bring to a gentle boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until lentils are tender but still have a bit of bite to them. Drain thoroughly and set aside when done.


    In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic; sauteu0301 until softened and vegetables begin to caramelize. Stir in tomato paste. Then add balsamic or red wine and stir to loosen any bits from bottom of saucepan. Add tomatoes and their juices, breaking up tomatoes with fork. Add stock, bay leaf, thyme, minced oregano, maple syrup, and salt. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes for flavours to blend. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste.


    Remove bay leaf and woody stems from thyme. Fold in cooked lentils and simmer until warmed through. Cover and set aside while cooking pasta.


    Bring large saucepan with lightly salted water to a full boil. Add noodles and cook until al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain well. Stir a little olive oil into pasta to prevent it from sticking.


    To serve, spoon noodles into serving bowl. Add a ladle of Bolognese sauce and scatter with some minced basil and toasted pine nuts. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and serve with crushed chilies, if using.


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    This recipe is part of the Give a Little Love collection.



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    B12-rich mussels are a very good and economical source of protein and iron. Steamed mussels are a classic way to enjoy seafood—and so is this rich, aromatic broth of tomato, fennel, and saffron. Be sure to allow saffron to fully infuse to get the full flavour benefit, and finish off the dish with the fragrant fennel fronds. Sustainability status Farmed mussels are considered highly sustainable due to their low impacts on the environment. They are easy to harvest, require no fertilizer or fresh water, and don’t need to be fed externally, as they get all their nutritional requirements from their marine environment. Mussel prep Selection: Look for mussels with shiny, tightly closed shells that smell of the sea. If shells are slightly open, give them a tap. Live mussels will close immediately. Storage: Keep mussels in the fridge in a shallow pan laid on top of ice. Keep them out of water and cover with a damp cloth. Ideally, consume on the day you buy them, but within two days. They need to breathe, so never keep them in a sealed plastic bag. Cleanup: In addition to being sustainable, farmed mussels tend to require less cleaning than wild mussels. Most of the fibrous “beards” that mussels use to grip solid surfaces will have been removed before sale. But if a few remain, they’re easily dispatched: grasp the beard with your thumb and forefinger and pull it toward the hinge of the mussel and give it a tug. Afterward, give mussels a quick rinse and scrub away any areas of mud or seaweed, which, with farmed mussels, will require minimal work.