Sunday, 31 July 2011

Pasta with Red Lentil Sauce

Okay, seriously? This is the most filling pasta sauce ever. And the non-dairy margarine gives it an extra little je ne sais quoi that makes it even better.

I used this recipe, though I made a few changes. I used a yellow pepper, since we didn't have any red ones, and, obviously, I didn't add parmesan cheese. I did use a bit of vitalite instead of the optional butter, though, and, as I said, it gave it a really nice touch.

The sauce serves four people, so if you're feeding less than that, as I am, it'll need to go in the fridge and be reheated.  It's just as good a few days later, as Anthony and I discovered when we took it on a picnic.  I've yet to try freezing it though - feel free to experiment!

Once again, I didn't buy anything new for this recipe, so I'm using Tesco online for prices.  For the vegetables, you will almost certainly be able to get them cheaper elsewhere.  I'd try an Asian supermarket, for those and for the lentils.

  • 1 Onion, diced (approx 24p each, Tesco) - 24p
  • 1 Clove of Garlic, crushed (30p per bulb, Tesco) - 4p
  • 2 Tablespoons of Sunflower Oil (£1.58 per litre, Tesco) - 5p
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Basil (69p per 16g, Tesco) - 2p
  • 1 Bell Pepper, chopped (3 pack for £1.65, Tesco) - 55p
  • 1 Tin Chopped Tomatoes (33p, Tesco Value) - 33p
  • 4oz Red Lentils (88p for 500g, Tesco) - 22p
  • 1 Tablespoon Tomato Puree (49p for 200g, Tesco) - 4p
  • 3/4 of a Pint of Water (if you want to figure out the cost, be my guest!)
  • 50g of Pasta per Person (89p for 500g, Tesco Wholewheat Fusilli) - 9p per Person
  • Non-Dairy Margarine (Optional) (Vitalite, £1.20 for 500g) - 2p per Person (approx)
  • Salt and Pepper (Optional, to taste)
Total - £1.93 for four people, 97p for two people, 49p for one person.

The cheese was for Anthony.  I'm told it went really well.

  1. Fry the onions and pepper in the oil for a few minutes.  Incidentally, there's a great video here on how to efficiently fillet a pepper.  Don't say I never teach you anything.  You can also find out how to correctly dice an onion there (remember to use a very sharp knife, and aim away from your fingers).
  2. When the onion is translucent, add the basil, chopped tomatoes, water, crushed garlic, tomato purée, and lentils.  Bring to the boil, then turn down, and simmer for twenty minutes.  Do not add salt at this point, it will make the lentils tough.
  3. Cook the pasta, and drain.  Return to the warm pan, and toss with the dairy-free margarine (if desired).
  4. Season the lentil sauce with salt and pepper, add to pasta, and serve.
  • Most of a Bulb of Garlic.
  • Most of a bottle of Sunflower Oil.
  • Most of a jar of dried Basil.
  • Most of a tube of Tomato Puree.
  • 3/4 of a packet of Red Lentils.
  • Most of a tub of non-dairy margarine.
  • Most of a packet of pasta.

Please note that, if you want to make this recipe again, you'll just need to buy a tin of chopped tomatoes, an onion, and a bell pepper.  Tinned tomatoes keep forever, or near enough, and onions are something you'll want on hand for a lot of meals, which makes it even handier.

Man, that was a good picnic.

Make it Cheaper/Better
  • Add this bread.  I'll be working out the cost and posting it up later, as something you can add to a wide variety of meals.  I'll say that that recipe makes between 4-6 portions, depending on personal taste.  We ate it with our picnic.  For our version, we use wholemeal plain flour, which made it super hearty and filling.  Neither of us could finish it, though Anthony made a very valiant attempt.
  • Speaking of picnics, if you have a bag which will keep food hot, I highly recommend it.  We heated the food up at home, then headed to the Edgbaston Reservoir, which is a five minute walk away.
  • To cut costs, do not buy your vegetables from Tesco.  Try a cheaper supermarket - Anthony seems to recall getting three bell peppers for a pound from Aldi - or an open market.
  • Use less oil for the frying.  I think you could get away with as little as half a tablespoon instead of two tablespoons.  Incidentally, this will cut a hundred or so calories from the total, so about twenty-five per portion.
  • Use fresh basil instead of dried.  You can buy a basil plant for 49p from Aldi, then put it in the garden, and use it for other things in future.

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