Lentil 'Mince'

This is a go-to recipe of ours which we have at least once a week just about every week. It's meat free, cheap, easy to make and I know that I can pop lots and lots veggies in there so I know the kids are getting loads of different types of veggies in one dish - most they don't even know about which sometimes is even better. This dish is also super versatile and can be used as a base for Spaghetti Bolognese, as a Mexican dish or in a vego shepherds pie.

By using lentils as the base ingredient in this dish it makes it super cost effective as well as a dish you can pre-prepare for by soaking your lentils and even cooking them prior to making the dish on a week night which makes it even quicker.

When we have this as a week night dinner we either have it as a Mexican meal with loads and loads of grated and chopped veggies in a bowl with either homemade Chickpea wraps or we have had it with Proper Crisps new corn chips which come in a compostable bag (far too excited about these!). Sometimes the kids will have it just as a base with other veggies or roasties or often we use it in spaghetti- Bolognese instead of a meat-bas.

1 diced onion
3-4 cloves of garlic crushed
2 tsp Smoked Paprika
1 1/2 cups of lentils (pre-soaked and cooked)
3/4 cup grated up carrots
3/4 cup grated up zucchini
1/2 cup finely chopped up broccoli and broccoli stalks
1 can/cup of chopped or fresh diced tomatoes (rince the can out with water if using a can and add water in)
1 1/2 cups tomato Passata 
Olive Oil

1. To pre-soak and cook your lentils - soak in water in the fridge for at least 24hrs before cooking. When you cook - strain all of the soaking water out and use 2 1/2 cups of fresh water to cook your lentils in. Bring to the boil and then turn down to simmer for around 25 minutes or until soft - make sure you drain after cooking. You can do this step a couple of days early and just store the cooked lentils in the fridge once drained if need be.

2. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic to fry for around 4 minutes. Add the smoked Paprika and cook for another 2 minutes.

3. Add the carrots, zucchini and veggies into fry for a minute or two and then add the cooked lentils in with any excess water that didn't drain. Stir to combine and cook whilst stirring for a couple of minutes.

4. Add in the chopped tomato and pasata sauce and simmer on a low heat for anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour depending how much time you have - the longer you can cook for the tastier it will be.

5. Season with salt and pepper in the final minutes and serve however you have decided to use.



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