If you’re looking for a satisfying and nutritious meal that’s as good for your mental health as it is for your taste buds, you’ve come to the right place. This Red Lentil Bolognese recipe is a hearty and plant-based take on the classic Italian dish, packed with ingredients that offer a variety of mental health benefits. So, let’s dive into this delicious and comforting dish.
Mental Health Benefits of Key Ingredients:
- Red Lentils: Rich in folate, red lentils support serotonin production in the brain, promoting a positive mood and reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, an antioxidant that has been linked to reduced risk of mood disorders and enhanced cognitive function.
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms contain selenium and vitamin D, which are essential for maintaining a healthy and balanced mood.
- Zucchini: Zucchini is a good source of B-vitamins, including B6, which plays a crucial role in neurotransmitter production, aiding mood regulation.
- Red Capsicum (Bell Pepper): High in vitamin C, red capsicum supports the reduction of stress and anxiety, promoting better mental health.
- Basil: Basil contains compounds like linalool, which have anxiety-reducing properties, contributing to an overall sense of calm.
- Garlic and Onions: Both garlic and onions are rich in allicin, which has been linked to improved mood and a reduction in depressive symptoms.
Now, let’s get cooking!
- Olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 red capsicum, diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 100 g (7 oz) mushrooms, chopped
- 1 can (400g or 14 oz) Italian tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon of Italian herbs
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Vegemite (for added umami flavor)
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
- Vegetable stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Spaghetti noodles (use gluten-free if desired)
- Vegan Parmesan for garnish
- Basil for garnish
- Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add a splash of olive oil. Once hot, add the chopped onion, celery, and carrots. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables soften.
- Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.
- Stir in the red capsicum, zucchini, and mushrooms. Continue to cook for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften and brown slightly.
- Pour in the canned Italian tomatoes and tomato paste. Break the tomatoes apart with a spoon, and add the Italian herbs, balsamic vinegar and Vegemite. Mix well and let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes (or longer!).
- Stir in the red lentils and vegetable stock to cover the mixture. Simmer for 10-25 minutes until the lentils are al dente and the sauce has thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- While the sauce is simmering, cook the spaghetti noodles according to package instructions.
- Once everything is ready, serve the Red Lentil Bolognese over the cooked spaghetti noodles. Garnish with vegan Parmesan and fresh basil leaves.
This Red Lentil Bolognese is a wholesome, delicious, and mood-boosting meal that nourishes both your body, mind & soul. Enjoy this flavourful, plant-based twist on a classic dish for a satisfying dinner.