Easy Vegan Bolognese
Updated: Aug 4, 2019
So delicious, incredibly easy and healthy. You wouldn't know that you weren't eating meat if I didn't tell you! Also i did not use canned tomatoes, any wine or salt, so our baby was able to eat some of this exact sauce.
500g (2 packs) of vegan minced meat - I used the brand Omnipork
1 large red onion diced
1 large carrot diced
4 large tomatoes diced
4 cloves garlic diced
1/2 cup dried red lentils (optional)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried Italian seasoning
2 fresh bay leaves (i used frozen ones)
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp tomato paste
In a large pot, heat up olive oil, and fry onion on medium heat until translucent. Add carrots and garlic and cook until carrots start to soften. Add your vegan minced meat (or pork if you prefer that) and fry until cooked. If you use a meat substitute it may not brown at all, so just lightly cook it.
Add tomatoes, all the seasoning, lentils, broth, water and tomato paste. Stir and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and cook for around 30 minutes on low heat with the lid on. Once all the flavours are wonderfully combined, if it is still quite watery, turn up the heat and let the sauce thicken.
Remove bay leaves before serving with rice or pasta or potatoes. I find the flavour to be really good as is, but feel free to season additionally with salt and pepper.
Nothing makes me more sad than a can of half used tomato paste covered with a piece of cling film in the fridge waiting to be thrown out. Nowadays I only use tube tomato paste that can be stored in the fridge for many months since one recipe tends to only use a few tablespoonfuls. I also don't buy cans anymore for fear of BPA. Tubed tomato paste can be found in most supermarkets, but if you can't find it, i wouldn't bother getting a can. You could honestly do with a few squirts of ketchup or just mash some more tomatoes into the sauce. The leniency of the stew recipe is what makes it so great.
Lentils are a really great source of protein, iron and fiber for the vegetarian, or for anyone actually, and have strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. 2 servings of lentils per week can reduce breast cancer risk by 24%. I never used to eat lentils CBC (Carrie before cancer) but i try to do so now, as well as increase the variety in my food consumption to reap the most nutritional benefits. Dried lentils are also super cheap and thicken your stew without having to cook it down for that long. So they have zero impact on the taste of this bolognese but a suggest you try it!
Bay leaves come in a large pack that take quite a long time to finish. Put the package in the freezer as soon as you buy it so it can last for months. They will never go bad but they may lose in the potency of their aromas.
Most of the beneficial cancer fighting nutrients of the vegetable are in the skin! If you have time, soak the carrots and tomatoes in water with some salt to wash away pesticides, and use them in this dish without peeling to reap the most nutritional benefits.
Cooking has always calmed me down ever since instant noodles was the only thing i knew how to cook, and it has helped me today. Lately i have been feeling down and frustrated about the political turmoil in Hong Kong. Not because of the actual events or my political stance but because there seems to be many people in my life that allow political beliefs to ruin their relationships and friendships. To me, life is a multitude of things with government playing only a small part, because no matter which country we live in, no government can perfectly suit the needs of all people living within it. But your connections with people and the relationships you forge, transcend beyond daily survival and are the absolute spark and joy of life, giving meaning to your existence! Without people who love you, what does it mean to have freedom? To simply say that one has a strong conviction powerful enough that friends who disagree should no longer stay in touch, is quite the lonely life. I'm sure those people will disagree because of course they can just find other friends with similar beliefs, but when some other controversy comes up in the future, these new friendships may likely split as well.
Being friends with 10 selfish people is equivalent to being friends with just yourself.
Can you rely on them to stay by your side when you need it? If you can't rely on your friends, how can you rely on the strangers in government? How can the solution ever not be love, compassion and unity?
Jerry and I had a long and deep conversation about this issue and to analyse and confirm our political beliefs, which i will not discuss. But it took me several sleepless nights to come to a conclusion that no one but God can judge our beliefs, and even so, God is loving and all embracing. As a friend, wife, daughter and sister, i may not have done my absolute best, but I can honestly say that i have never made anyone feel inferior or unworthy of my company because i felt that what they have done is wrong or a poor choice. Being a friend means to be there for them when they need it, not only in conditions that are favourable to you. And if faced with someone who does not value you over a multitude of things, or needs you to prove your political stance, i have learned my lesson and will just save my affection for someone else. Would you refuse to be friends with someone who does not believe in your religion? Pushing through your convictions and standing up for what you believe in is respectable, but hurting other people's feelings by rejection in the process is not. Recently I have been reading the book The Things You Can See When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim, and he says that we are all the same no matter how famous, powerful, rich or smart, we all "long for deep connection and unconditional acceptance. We have the same insecurities and need for approval". There isn't a single person who isn't vulnerable deep down. To attack at such knowing that you would be hurt also, even if you feel you are 100% correct, is setting yourself up for bad karma. I felt deeply hurt to know that some people choose politics over my friendship, I couldn't believe that my deep care for them is so easily negligible. But i picked myself back up and have decided not to let political extremists affect my life anymore. If anyone wishes to know my stance or discuss with me, i will maintain that political stance is a personal and private choice, and I wouldn’t let it affect my view of you no matter what your belief is. And if anyone decides that I am not a useful member of society because of my wish to maintain political neutrality in conversations or at all, I can only say that I benefit my community through my passions, charity, love and positive attitude to anyone willing to receive it, and not through my shouting about whatever colour on social media. I won't allow myself to be judged anymore.
One day, the dust will settle again in our city. And i will continue to be happy, as I am happy now, grateful to be beating cancer and alive, in the company of people who care deeply about me no matter what i think or believe in. And I will continue to love my friends and family with all my heart no matter what convictions they have as well. That's how simple life can be.