We are not vegan, but I often enjoy trying new vegan recipes simply because they look delicious and are (usually) full of wholesome, nutritious ingredients. When I want to find a vegan (or vegan-ish with modifications) recipe, I usually look to Nisha at Rainbow Plant Life or Sadia at Pick Up Limes. Their websites have tons of vegan recipes, and I also love watching their cooking videos on YouTube. I needed to make a vegetarian and dairy free dish for my daughter’s birthday party, and it needed to be a dish that kids would (hopefully) enjoy too. Kids usually love pasta, and I had recently seen a vegan bolognese recipe on Nisha’s website, so I figured I would make my own version and tweak it a little! Now this might sound strange, but whenever I make meaty bolognese or lasagna, I like to add Indian masala to give it a richer flavor and some more heat. I still add the Italian herbs and such as well. I decided to just adapt what I do for meat sauce to a vegan base, and it turned out pretty tasty! My carnivorous husband even loved it!
This recipe is quite loose because I didn’t really measure anything, so I am estimating here. It is also enough to fill an 8×10 baking dish, so it will feed a crowd! You can always serve it over gluten-free pasta if you wish. If you make it and enjoy it, I would love to know!
- 2 boxes of dry pasta (1 lb each) – I like to mix pasta shapes, so I used half a box of large macaroni plus half a box of rigatoni.
- 1 cup of dry red lentils (masoor dal) – ideally soaked for a few hours and strained.
- 1 package of frozen fake meat crumbles (Gardein)
- 2 28oz cans of crushed red tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 3-4 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 3 tbs coriander powder
- Dried red chili flakes (optional)
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped (adjust to your taste!)
- Dried oregano, Italian seasoning, dried thyme (eyeball it!)
- Coconut oil (or oil of your choice)
- 1 tbsp butter
- Salt/black pepper to taste
- Boil salted water for pasta while preparing the sauce. Let the pasta cook while the sauce cooks.
- Cook the lentils in vegetable broth or water with a vegetarian bullion cube – you can boil it, pressure cook it, or cook it in an Instant Pot. Strain and set aside.
- In a large pan/skillet, heat oil of your choice and melt butter. Add onions and a dash of salt, cook until translucent.
- Add garlic, sauté for 30 seconds.
- Add the dried Indian spices and the dried herbs. Mix until fragrant.
- Add the dried red chili flakes (if using).
- Add the tomato sauce + tomato paste.
- Add the fake meat crumbles plus the cooked lentils. Let simmer.
- Add salt and black pepper to taste.
- Add the strained pasta to an 8×10 baking dish. Pour the sauce over it and mix well.
- If you are ok with dairy, you can top with shredded cheese or use vegan cheese (as long as you’re sure you like vegan cheese! I am not a fan). Alternatively you can mix in nutritional yeast which is vegan and gives it a cheesy flavor.
- Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. Serve hot, and feel free to top with more cheese (or “cheese”) of your choosing!