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I’ve tried many lentils ragù over the years and I particularly like this recipe because it is simple to prepare and very versatile. I always prepare more than I need because whatever is left it’s great with meatballs, sausages, cod, or with more vegetables like aubergines, pepper or potatoes.

The base for this ragù it’s a classic italian battuto: one celery stick, one large carrot and one onion (same amount of each basically) all diced up and gently gently fried in just a few tablespoons of olive or rapeseed oil. What makes this utterly delicious is the combo of lentils and dry mushrooms. It's hearty and warming and so well balanced, especially if you add some grated cheese on top.

A note about soaking the lentils: you don't need to, but if you want to make them softer and have time - rinse, cover with fresh water, bring to the boil and let them simmer for 20 minutes. Once done place them in a sterilised jar while still hot, close it and let it cool down at room temperature. Keep it refrigerated and use within a couple of weeks.

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  • Start by soaking dry mushrooms in 500ml of boiling hot water (and put the kettle back on as you will need more hot water later) and rinsing the dry lentils in cold water.

  • Dice all the vegetables and add them to the rapeseed oil in a no-stick (or heavy bottomed) pot. Cook gently at a very low heat.

  • Fish the mushrooms out and chop them finely (keep the hot brown water aside). Add them to the soffritto once all diced vegetables are cooked and slightly browned.

  • Add the bay leaves, the dry lentils and pour in the glass of wine. Increase the heat to medium/high and reduce all the wine.

  • Once the wine is reduced, add the tomato passata, the mushrooms water, salt and pepper and another 500ml of boiling hot water.​

  • Once boiling, reduce the heat to the minimum, put the lid on and let the ragu simmer away for at least 1 and a half hour stirring it occasionally. Once ready the ragu should be thick and creamy, lentils soft. Add hot water and keep cooking if you feel that lentils are still too hard.

​INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 320g of Pastificio Carleschi Wholegrain Spelt maccheroni

  • 250g of Hodmedod's whole green olive lentils (dry)

  • 20g dry mushrooms (ideally ceps)

  • 1 celery stalk, 1 large carrot, 1 brown onion

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 glass of dry white wine

  • 500ml of tomato passata

  • 3 tablespoon of EV rapeseed oil (more if you like)

  • sea salt

  • Black/green ground peppercorn​

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