I’m a diehard vegan foodie. I could talk about,make and eat (lots of) gorgeous vegan food all day everyday. My idea of a fun evening is curled up pouring over recipe books,making lists and menu plans to try and incorporate my experiments into our weekly budget. After all, what is life without some cruelty-free chocolate mousse or homemade pepperoni seitan vegan pizza?
Sometimes life throws curveballs and the budget gets stripped back to the bare bones or you don’t have time to indulge in fancy schmancy recipes due to higher priorities. That’s where it’s time to REALLY get inventive and develop some core easy,cheap yet packed with flavour dishes that won’t feel like you’re eating the same dinner 7 nights a week.
This lentil dish is one of our ultimate favourites, I make a huge batch of this at least twice a month. The best part about it is its versatility! From this base recipe you can portion it up and add lots of different seasoning combinations to create scrummy meals that don’t feel like you’re budgeting, plus it is SO quick to prep, could also possibly be done in a slow cooker though I haven’t tried it yet ( must get on that and report back)
Here is the basic recipe then I’ll list all our favourite ways to season it up. It freezes beautifully so you can either freeze the base or portion up with seasonings added. Perfect for quick lunches/dinners when you’re out of energy/time/ideas!
BASIC LENTIL RECIPE
1 1/2 cups of dried green lentils
I tin of chopped tomatoes
2 white onions finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic minced (or adjust to your own preference,personally I’m of the opinion you can NEVER have too much garlic)
1 cup celery finely chopped
1 cup carrot finely chopped
1 cup courgette finely chopped
1 cup bell pepper finely chopped
1 cup mushrooms chopped
1 glass of red wine ( any vegan wine will do)
Pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper
*note: easy to switch out the veg for whatever you have on hand or needs used up, we’ve also had with peas,sweetcorn,leeks,broccoli and cauliflower
Heat a little oil or water in a sauté pan to low medium heat and gently soften the onion and garlic for around 2 minutes. Add the rest of the veg and gently cook for a few minutes more. Add the lentils and the wine then turn up the heat to medium high to cook off the alcohol for a few minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes , a pinch of sugar and enough veg stock to cover the lentils. Season. Bring to the boil. Turn the heat down low ,cover the pan and cook for a few hours , stirring occasionally and adding more stock if it starts looking dry. Remember to have a big enough pan to have room for the lentils to expand as they cook. And that’s it! Very little prep and almost looks after itself as it cooks. Then it’s ready to portion up and add seasonings to. Here are our favourite variations…
WAYS TO SPICE IT UP
- Italian seasoning for spaghetti bolognese or lasagne base
- BBQ season for sloppy joes
- Moroccan spices served with couscous or flatbread
- Steakhouse seasoning for tacos
- Fajita spices,beans,rice and salad for wraps
- Add chilli kick and serve over baked potatoes/nachos/fries topped with vegan cheese or sour cream
- Mix with quinoa/rice/couscous and extra veggies for stuffed peppers
- Either BBQ or steakhouse seasoning with breadcrumbs and flax ‘egg’ or chickpea brine to shape into burgers
There we go. Lots of options, easy and cheap to make, takes the hassle out of menu planning. I hope you enjoy the recipe, let me know what you think if you make it!