One-Pot Oil-Free Vegan Lentil Quinoa "Meaty" Sauce
I was inspired to create this recipe by someone in our FREE "Going Vegan For Health" Facebook Group who posted a recipe just like this. Except that it required 2 large pots and a blender, many more ingredients, sauteing and cooking different ingredients at different times and it included oil. I love that it kicks up the nutrition of a basic tomato sauce by adding protein and fiber from the quinoa and the lentils with just the right amount of texture. While the person who posted the recipe said it was delicious, I'm a one-pot kind of vegan. I want to dispel the myth that cooking good vegan food requires standing there cooking all day. So, herewith, is the one-pot busy vegan's version (without any oil).
Vegan Cooking Level: Beginner
1 small onion
4 cloves garlic, minced or shredded
2-4 tbsp. vegetable broth, for sauteeing
2 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juice
4 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/4 cup brown or green lentils, rinsed
1 1/4 cups veggie broth
optional: 1/8 tsp. red pepper
optional: 1 cup fresh spinach, sliced thinly, added just before serving
*This makes a large batch of sauce that freezes beautifully.
How to cook it all in one-pot*
Step 1: In a large dutch oven or deep sauce pot, saute the onions and garlic on low heat in the few tablespoons of veggie broth until translucent. Add more veg broth 1 tablespoon at a time if veggies are sticking to the pot.
Step 2: Add tomatoes, tomato paste, spices and vinegar (leaving the salt for the end) and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes. If you would like a smoother sauce texture, use an immersion blender, pulse gently until you reach your desired texture.
Step 3: Add rinsed quinoa, lentils and remaining veggie broth to the pot and let simmer for about 1 hour until the lentils are soft and the quinoa is translucent with little white tails. If the sauce appears too thick at any time, just add a little more broth to your own desired texture.
Kid tip: If your kids would balk at seeing the lentils or tomato chunks in their sauce, use the immersion blender again, pulsing gently until the lentils are less visible, being careful not to liquefy the sauce completely.
Optional Step 4: Fold in the spinach, if desired, after lentils and quinoa are cooked, and after any final blending, in the last few minutes before serving.
*The lazy vegan version: Simply start with jarred sauce and start at step 3. Or, if you happen to have some lentils and quinoa already cooked just throw the sauce, pre-cooked lentils and pre-cooked quinoa in the pot and heat it up, adding the additional spices if you prefer.
**The laziest Instant Pot version: Reduce amount of veggie broth to 3/4 cup and Dump ALL the ingredients (except any spinach) into your Instant Pot. Press the "soup" button and walk away. Use a Natural Release and once open, you can use an immersion blender, pulsing gently to smooth the sauce to the consistency you love. Then, add the spinach.
Serve with your favorite pasta and some "nut" parm for a high quality, whole food, high protein high comfort dinner everyone will love.
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