Frugal Food – Lentil Ragu
Lentil ragu has been a staple in this household for a few years. Not only is it great for using up left over vegetables, it uses storecupboard ingredients, it’s cheap and goes with so many other foods. There is a basic formula to this recipe, but it can be easily tweaked. Sometimes I add bacon, sometimes not. Sometimes I use beef stock, sometimes it’ll be vegetable stock. It all really depends on what is available in the house.
I use lentils a great deal in food. They are a fantastic way to bulk meals out cheaply. Don’t tell carnivore husband, but I have been known to use lentils to bulk out meat dishes like bolognaise. I use a combination of both green and red lentils in this recipe mostly for texture. The red ones break down during the cooking process while the green ones have more of a bite. They green ones also have a slightly different taste, almost nuttier. When it comes to the green lentils there is Lentille Vert (also called Puy lentils) which are more expensive or green lentils. In this recipe normal green lentils are perfect.
This recipe can also be transformed into other dishes. With a sprikle of chilli powder, cumin and pinch of cinnamon along with a tin of kidney beans you have a lentil chilli. It also goes well with not only pasta but rice and couscous. The dish freezes well and the flavour improves the day after making it.
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
150 g red lentils
150 g green lentils
125 ml red wine (if not using replace with stock)
1 tbsp tomato purée
250 ml beef or vegetable stock
2 x tins chopped tomatoes
splash of Worcestershire sauce
handful of other sliced vegetables e.g. carrots, mushrooms, pepper
1 TBSP mixed herbs
salt & pepper (to taste)
1) In a deep saucepan fry off the onion in a small amount of olive oil until onions have softened.
2) Add the garlic fry for a minute on a medium heat then stir in the lentils.
3) Pour in the wine and boil for a few minutes until liquid has reduced by half.
4) Add the remaining ingredients then simmer for 45-60 minutes.