Real good Ragù


The only ragù I’ve ever eaten, up until very recently, is my mum’s rabbit and chestnut variation. Tremendously rich and sweet, the meat was prepped the previous day, and the sauce slow-cooked for several hours; served over tagliatelle, it was superb.  A ragù, for me, then, brings forth associations of decadence and considerable labour. So, stumbling across a ragù which claimed to take only fifty minutes to prep and cook, seemed a recipe in need of serious investigation.

This recipe is so good that I cooked it again two days later, and I predict that it will be a mainstay in my pasta repertoire for a long time to come. From the BBC Eatwell magazine, this recipe serves five, and provides three of your five a day. (This magazine is an absolute gem: almost entirely filled with recipes tested in the GoodFood kitchen, it furnishes enough meal ideas for a month:  stews, curries, quick fixes, bakes, breakfasts…)




To serve four with this vegetable ragù, you’ll need:

  • one onion
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • a tbsp each of tomato purée and balsamic vinegar
  • 250g diced vegetables: think courgette, peppers, mushrooms, aubergine
  • 50g red lentils
  • 2 x 400g can chopped tomatoes (with basil, or use fresh basil instead)
  • 250g tagliatelle, or wholewheat spaghetti (I had a thicker sauce, having used half a can of tomatoes for one; so used brown fusili for a more minestrone-style consistency)
  • shaved Parmesan, or mature cheddar cheese


Start by finely chopping the onion and celery, and dicing the carrot. Cook in two to three tablespoons of stock, until softened.

Finely chop the garlic, and slice the vegetables into small pieces. Add the garlic, tomato purée, and balsamic vinegar, and cook for another minute, before adding the vegetables, lentils, and chopped tomatoes. Here, I added a generous sprinkling of dried rosemary for extra flavour.

Stir well to incorporate and season, before bringing to a boil and popping a lid on to simmer for twenty minutes.

In the meantime, cook the pasta. Serve the ragù with the cheese, and perhaps some wilted rocket.

This was a delicious and satisfying dinner – and I honestly did not miss the meat. The lentils really thickened out the sauce, giving it somewhat of a ‘meaty’ texture. Give it a go, and I can promise that the meat won’t be missed.



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