Are we getting enough protein, even in meatless meals?
It seems that lately people in the foodie world are telling us we need more and more protein in our diets. How can vegetarians, or those of us going meatless now and then, get the protein we need in each meal? Simple, add some lentils! Thanks to these little beauties, red split lentils, each serving of this simple pasta sauce packs more that 9 grams of protein!
Did you know that lentils are pulses? A pulse is an edible seed harvested from the pod of plants in the legume family. Pulses grown in Canada include dry beans, dry peas, lentils and chickpeas. Lentils can be found in yellow, red or green. Green lentils are often found whole, while you can find red lentils whole, or dehulled and split. In North America, while consumers have started to embrace the lentil, it’s consumption is still relatively low compared to countries where pulses are a dietary staple like in southern Asia.
Red lentils are the most commonly consumed lentil worldwide. Unlike some other varieties of lentils, split red lentils cook down fast and easy. An extra bonus is that they make you feel satisfied and keep you feeling full and happy longer.
Lentils are a great tasting addition to any diet. They are rich in fibre and protein, and have high levels of minerals such as iron, zinc, and phosphorous as well as folate and other B-vitamins. They are a powerful food ingredient that we all need to add to our diet more often.
The recipe for this pasta sauce is a simple meatless version of my Mom’s Awesome Meat Sauce. The result is a delicious mix of mushrooms, onions, carrots and lentils that is a vegetarian dream… instant classic!
- ⅔ cup red split lentils, rinsed
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
- 227g/8 oz. sliced cremini mushrooms
- ½ cup chopped sweet onion
- 1 finely chopped carrot
- 1-6 oz. can tomato paste
- 1-14 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 crushed clove garlic
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried parsley flakes
- 1 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp chili flakes or 1 Tbsp sriracha sauce (optional)
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 cup water
- In a small saucepan, cover lentils with cold water + 1 inch. Bring to boil, cover, reduce to simmer and cook 8-12 minutes until 'el dente'. Set aside.
- While lentils are cooking, add canola oil to a large fry pan over medium-high heat. Sauté mushrooms, onions and carrot for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add all remaining ingredients, bring to simmer, cover and cook for 50 minutes. NOTE: if in a hurry 20 minutes will do.
- After sauce has reduced, add cooked lentils and heat through. Serve over pasta with a garnish of parmesan cheese and chopped fresh herbs. Freezes really well.