I don’t eat enough lentils even though I love them. They’re such a useful protein source and make THE BEST meatloaves/meatballs. This is an offshoot of one of my older recipes: The Best Lentil Meatballs with a few adjustments, feel free to try that recipe as well, it’s great! And if you do, you can always just sub leftovers from that into this recipe.
You can make this recipe vegan if you want, either omit the cheese or if you can find a vegan cheese that melts/caramelizes well use that! The cheese just adds a layer of flavour and fat but it will still be delicious without.
It might seem unnecessary to prep and bake the lentil mixture before adding it to a liquid tomato sauce, but it really helps with the end texture. Cooking off additional moisture prevents the final product from just being soup and allowing the cheese/lentil to crisp lightly adds another layer of flavour.
The lentil ground recipe is a completely separate recipe as well, that you can use anywhere you’d replace ground meat. It’s especially delicious in tacos!
Makes about equivalent to 1 lb of cooked ground “meat”
- 1/2 cup dried lentils (1 1/4 cup if you’re using canned)
- 1/4 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/3 cup finely grated cheddar or mixed cheese (really whatever you have)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp dried parsley
- pinch cayenne
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Begin by prepping the lentil mixture. In a large pot of boiling water, add dried lentils and cook about 20-25 minutes until lentils are tender and a lot of liquid has absorbed, you should be able to crush a lentil between your fingers. It’s fine if you overcook this. Preheat oven to 400.
- Strain lentils and allow to cool slightly. Add to a large bowl and mash either with a fork or potato masher until lentils are a lumpy mashed potato texture. This doesn’t need to be smooth, just smashed up a bit. Add tomato sauce, oats, cheese, garlic, parsley, cayenne, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
- On a parchment lined baking pan, lay out lentil mixture into a 1/2″ even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes until lentil mixture has lightly browned, and the cheese has melted. Let cool.
- Set aside and prep rest of sauce.
This mix is really tasty as is, please refrain from picking at it and eating all the delicious crispy bits as you prep your pasta sauce like I do.
What you need for the sauce:
6-8 servings of sauce
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1/2 white onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 small carrot, coarsely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- lentil mixture
- 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 2-3 leaves fresh basil, minced
- 2 tbsp fresh oregano, minced
- In a large pan over medium heat add oil, onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Sautee until cooked through and onions are translucent.
- Add lentil ground and mix thoroughly, cook for about 1-2 minutes. Since there is both oats and cheese in this mixture, if you’re using a stainless steel pan it will stick to the bottom, don’t panic! The liquid we add will help it lift up.
- Add can of tomatoes, about 1/2 to 1 full can of water and bay leaf. I start with 1/2 a can of water first, you just want it to be fluid enough to simmer/bubble a bit. Too dry and you’ll just burn the sauce.
- Lower heat and cover leaving a gap for steam to escape. Let simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and taste! Season liberally with salt and pepper to taste. We wait to season at the end as the oats and lentils will have absorbed additional liquid and that can concentrate things making them too salty if we season it before cooking.
Serve with your favourite pasta (I used pappardelle) and sprinkle with fresh basil/oregano. Have some parmesan or romano cheese as a garnish as well!
This recipe makes a LOT of sauce, and it also freezes well, so if you don’t end up eating it all, throw it into a ziptop container and freeze. You can use this in many different pasta dishes, or throw it on pizza or flatbread!