If you clicked on this because you thought it was a meat sauce, I’m sorry to say that this is my vegetarian version of a meat sauce. If you clicked on this because you wanted a delicious healthy marinara sauce filled with fresh vegetables and the texture of a meat sauce, then you’ve come to the right place! I am excited to say that my Hide Your Veggies “Meat” Sauce fits in perfectly with August’s Recipe ReDux challenge.This month’s challenge is to “Show us your favorite recipe to help families get ‘back to the dinner table.’” Many of my family centric dishes include a meat sauce.
I grew up eating homemade pizza every Friday, lasagna at holidays and pasta and meatballs weekly. When I think of sitting around a dinner table, I think of sauce. Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t lighten up my sauce by adding almost 4 cups of veggies, a vegetarian protein (lentils) and a fresh herb (parsley). The lentils in this dish pack a protein punch but also give the sauce a meaty flavor. Serve this with whole wheat pasta and I bet your friends and family won’t even know they’re eating their veggies, lean protein and whole grains. My favorite part is that there’s enough for leftovers—put half in the freezer for your next pizza or pasta night!
Makes 6-8 servings
¼ cup dry brown lentils
½ cup water
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
½ medium white onion, diced
1 red pepper, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ cup of chopped parsley (about 4-6 sprigs)
½ teaspoon salt
1 28-ounce can of San Marzano purée tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
- Combine the lentils and water in a pot. Bring to a boil. When boiling, cover and reduce the heat to simmer. Simmer for about 45 minutes.
- In the meantime, heat a sauce pan over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil and heat for about 1 minute. Add the onions, peppers, and carrots to the pan. Sauté the vegetables for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the garlic, parsley and salt to the pan. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
- Pour the tomato purée into the vegetable mixture and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Once 15 minutes has passed, remove the sauce from the heat.
- When the lentils are cooked (all the water will be absorbed), add them to the sauce.
- Add the sugar. Stir and enjoy!
- A ¼ cup of dry lentils contains 12g of protein, 35% of the daily value of thiamin and 58% of the daily value of folate. Thiamin helps maintain healthy brain function, while folate keeps your red blood cells healthy and happy!
- Carrots contain beta-carotene, which has been shown to decrease the incidences of developing cancer.
- Red peppers are packed with Vitamin C. A ½ cup of chopped red pepper (about the amount in this recipe) has over 300% the daily value of Vitamin C. Take that oranges!
- Onions and garlic are a great way to add intense flavor to a dish without adding calories or sodium.
- Parsley contains Vitamin K, which helps to maintain a healthy heart. Herbs are another healthy way to flavor a dish without adding salt or fat.