Here’s a great idea for a simple and tasty meal that can be used in a variety of ways. 

This recipe is my own.  I’m sharing it as a thank you for reading my blog.

All you need are some dried red lentils.

They’re a really useful pulse because they don’t need soaking overnight or cooking in advance. They’re inexpensive, keep very well in your cupboard and can be used in a variety of meals.

Andrea’s Lentil Bolognese

Serves four


2 mug fulls of dried red lentils

Rapeseed oil or any cooking oil of your choice

2 cans of chopped tomatoes (PLUS each empty can filled with water, sloshed around to pick up the remains in tin and that water added to the lentil mix)

2-3 large onions chopped small

A good pinch of mixed dried herbs

Dark soy sauce – a good splash

1 tsp powdered mustard

Worcestershire sauce – a good splash

Red wine (not necessary but makes a nice addition) – a good splash

Black pepper

Small amount of salt – more can be added later

1-3 cloves of crushed or chopped garlic (to taste)

A very good squeeze or two of tomato ketchup

Optional – 1-2 bay leaves

Optional – a pinch of spice if you’d like a more curried flavour


Start by filling a sieve three quarters full (about two large mug fulls) with red lentils and rinsing them well. Put to one side.

Heat oven to about 180-200 degrees

Soften chopped onions in oil (I used rapeseed oil not olive oil) in Le Creuset pan or large saucepan on stove.

Add garlic. Soften for about 10-15 minutes.

Add lentils and stir. Immediately add the 2 cans of tomatoes plus the same can or two of water.

Add all the other ingredients. Stir well. Add more water if the mixture looks dry.

Lentils need a lot of water as they absorb it quickly and you don’t want the mix to dry out.

Put the le Creuset pan (covered with lid) into hot oven or transfer the contents of your saucepan to a le Creuset pan or similar baking dish and cover.

I leave mine in the oven for one and a half to two hours. Towards the end of cooking time I turn the oven down to about 170.

Every now and then it is important to check that the lentils are not drying out.  If so add some more water and stir.

When the mix looks like it’s cooked (the lentils will look soft), taste it.  Now is the time to add a dash more of any of your ingredients if you think the mix needs more flavour.  Eg more herbs, more soy, more ketchup, maybe now some salt and more pepper if needed.  If you want the lentils to be spicy you can add a small amount of cumin, garam masala or other curry powder.

Stir and return to oven.  Remember to check that the mix is not drying out.  Keep checking. And keep tasting.  If you need to add more water, you may want to add one or more of your ingredients eg more ketchup, more dried mustard, more soy sauce etc

When you think the mix is nearly there you can switch oven off and leave it to sit in the le Creuset pan where it will carry on cooking – just make sure it does not dry out! I sometimes let it sit in oven overnight.

Serve with spaghetti or any other pasta and top with grated cheese.

I use this same mixture for shepherd’s/cottage pie and lasagne. It’s also great as a topping for baked potato.

It is my own recipe and has evolved over the years. Always taste as you go – don’t leave tasting to the very end.  The ingredients all need to be cooked for full flavour.

In the unlikely event you have some left over you will find that every time it is re-heated the flavour improves!

It also freezes well once cold.

Bon appetit!

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems


  1. This was one of the first meals you made for us when we visited you many years ago. Yes it looks like it has evolved somewhat.

    Sent from my iPhone



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