Thursday afternoon was one of those afternoons where everything at work seemed to go wrong. As soon as I finished work, I sat in the garden to unwind. With the sun beaming on me and the French tunes playing on our Echo, I closed my eyes and imagined I was sat in the South of France on the balcony of our chalet. It was great how quickly I could wind down and put everything into perspective. I got a burst of energy and started to plan our tea.
I needed comfort food, something rich and full of flavour that would leave the whole family feeling satisfied for the evening. Being in France mode, brown lentils had to be involved to get the true comfort food effect. Every time I eat brown lentils I think of France. The shelves in Carrefour are stacked with large tins of brown lentils in a variety of sauces and stock. They are our quick go-to food when we are cooking up a quick meal on holiday and they always taste amazing.
I make a french lentil and vegetable soup the other week which was one option, but I wanted something more filling and indulgent (more carbs). I have really been enjoying potato gnocchi lately and it is one of those foods that instantly springs to mid when I think of comfort food. These delightful little potato dumplings seem to go with just about anything… so I thought why not try them in a bolognaise?
Why have I not done this before? It was wonderful! Everything went together perfectly and it looked almost too beautiful to eat!
I pre-cooked the lentils separately while I prepared the vegetables for the bolognaise and then cooked them further in the bolognaise. This allowed the lentils to break down more and created more of a creamy texture which is what I was looking for in this dish.
This dish is wholesome enough to be enjoyed on it’s own, but if you wanted to enjoy it with a side, I would recommend a leafy green salad or some rustic home-made gluten free bread.
- 300 grams dried brown lentils washed
- vegetable stock to cover lentils 2 inch above lentils in the pan (around 700 ml)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium carrots diced
- 2 medium celery sticks diced
- 1 medium bell pepper diced
- 1 medium onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp dried parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 150 grams mushrooms sliced
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- handful chopped kale
- 1 pack gluten free potato gnocchi
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh parsley to garnish
- Add the washed lentils to a pan and pour in stock to 2 inches above the lentils.
- Simmer the lentils for 25 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. The stock should reduce slightly as the lentils swell, make sure the stock is still touching the top of the lentils – if it reduces too much, add more hot water.
- In a large seaparate pan, heat the oil to a medium heat and add the carrots, celery, pepper and onions and fry for 5 minutes.
- Add the herbs, paprika and mushrooms to the vegetables and cook for a further 2 minutes stirring.
- Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, the kale and the lentils with stock they were cooking in and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Cook the gnocchi separately according to pack instructions (I usually boil until they float then drain).
- Add the cooked gnocchi to the bolognaise and stir everything together simmering over a low heat for a further 5 minutes.
- Add salt / pepper to taste and garnish with fresh parsley.