Lentil Ragù

Lentil Ragù by The Fat Foodie

Lentil Ragù by The Fat Foodie

In Italy, Sicilians make a pasta sauce that’s much like a bolognese, but instead of making it with minced meat they make it with lentils. This creates a deliciously thick and ‘meaty’ lentil ragù that’s incredible over pasta.

When Jen from Your Birth Scotland tasked me with developing some recipes for her pregnant and postpartum clients the first thing I thought of was a dish that would be primarily based on lentils because they’re one of the most incredibly nutritious and healthy pulses available. They’re also unbelievably cheap to buy and can be used in a myriad of dishes.

There are four main types of lentil which are used in cooking. Green and brown lentils hold their shape after cooking, so are suitable for using in stuffings, casseroles and warm salads. Yellow lentils break down into a pulp and tend to be used for making recipes like pease pudding or split pea soup. Puy lentils are beautiful greeny-slate coloured lentils that are grown in the Le Puy region in France and are prized for their high quality taste and their ability to retain their texture after cooking. These lentils tend to be used alongside fish and meat, such as in sausage casseroles. And lastly, we have the humble common red lentil, the most versatile lentil of all, which breaks down upon cooking to create a rich, thick puree that can be used to add texture to any dish while soaking up the flavours you wish to impart.

Aside from being highly fibrous and high in protein and carbohydrates, lentils are packed full of vitamins and minerals, including iron, folate, calcium, phosphorous and essential B vitamins. All of these support good overall health for everyone, but are particularly useful for women who are either pregnant or postpartum because they help to maintain healthy iron levels and prevent anemia while also supporting good metabolism operation to ensure your energy levels remain stable. As you can see, lentils are a win-win really!

One of the benefits to this lentil ragù (aside from the fact that it’s delicious!) is that it’s made in the slow cooker, allowing you to focus on other things throughout your day. It simply is a case of throwing all of your ingredients into the slow cooker pot, setting it on low, and getting on with your day.

This lentil ragù is fat free, iron rich and is packed full of lots of vegetables, making it a very healthy dish indeed. If you have a partner who insists on having meat every day then you could throw some diced casserole beef in alongside the lentils and it would taste just as good. I think the lentils are quite substantial enough as they are without having to add meat to the recipe, but each to their own, I say. You could also add mushrooms to it if you fancy or if you’d like to give it a smokey kick a half teaspoon of smoked paprika would do the trick. Also, if you make this and enjoy it you could try making The Happy Pear’s Dahl recipe in your slow cooker, which is also packed full of healthy, nutritious little lentils and is lovely served with rice and naans or poppadums.

Serve your lentil ragù on a bed of tender tagliatelle and scatter with fresh basil leaves and grated parmesan (or a vegan alternative).


1 large onion (diced)

3 garlic cloves (minced)

3 large carrots (cut into small pieces)

500g red lentils

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

2 tsps. of dried oregano

4 Oxo vegetable stock cubes

1 litre of boiling water (possibly more)

20 pitted black olives (halved)

10 sundried tomatoes (chopped)

500g tagliatelle

Fresh basil

Parmesan (or a vegan alternative)


Dissolve your Oxo cubes in a jug containing 1 litre of boiling water.

Prepare the ingredients as directed and put them all in your slow cooker.

Pour the stock over the ingredients, adding more hot water if necessary so that all of the ingredients are just covered by the liquid. (This depends on the size of your slow cooker, so if you’ve got a large slow cooker you might need to add more stock.)

Let it cook for the day (if you’re in the house you could give it a stir once an hour, but it’s fine to just leave it if you’re going out).

About half an hour before you’re ready to eat, check the seasoning. If it needs it, then add salt and pepper or another Oxo cube or two. It’s very much down to personal taste.

Cook your tagliatelle as directed on the pack, drain, portion onto plates and top with the lentil ragù, basil and parmesan. Enjoy!

The Simple Ingredients Required to Make The Fat Foodie's Lentil Ragù

The Simple Ingredients Required to Make The Fat Foodie’s Lentil Ragù

Lentil Ragù by The Fat Foodie About to be Slow Cooked

Lentil Ragù by The Fat Foodie About to be Slow Cooked


Lentil Ragù by The Fat Foodie

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Spaghetti Bolognese (serves 4)


Spaghetti Bolognese by The Fat Foodie

Spaghetti bolognese is one of the easiest dinners you can cook, to the extent that when I thought about writing this one up on the blog I thought it was maybe a bit too pedestrian, but once I tasted it I realised that, when it comes to my blog, my main rule is that it doesn’t matter how simple the recipe is as long as it tastes fantastic.

This is a meat and dairy-free spaghetti bolognese, but don’t let that put you off making this, meat-eaters, because: a.) the vegan mince is very tasty and substantial; b.) if you really wanted to you could easily use beef or pork mince in place of the vegan mince; and c.) it’s worth making for the ragù sauce alone.

The key to this spaghetti bolognese recipe is the inclusion of chopped sundried tomatoes which adds a silky richness to the tomato base. The capers and green olives also add a nice tart piquancy which cuts through the rich sauce whilst adding texture. I always keep a packet of fresh basil leaves (and coriander) in my freezer to add to dishes such as this one. I won’t lie, the freezing process does make the leaves lose some of their flavour potency, but it’s worth it to have some on hand to add to my plate should the need arise.

In all, if you make this spaghetti bolognese you’ll be rewarded with a plateful of tender well-seasoned spaghetti topped generously with a full-bodied and luscious tomato ragù that’s brimming over with flavour. All in all, how can you resist?


For the ragù sauce:

2 tbsps. of olive oil

I red onion (diced)

2 garlic cloves (minced or finely chopped)

10 pitted green olives (halved)

2 tbsps. capers

12 sundried tomatoes (chopped)

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1 tin of good quality chopped tomatoes

2 tbsps. tomato puree

250g vegan mince

Fresh basil

For the spaghetti:

360g dried spaghetti (I go with roughly 90g per person)

2 vegetable stock cubes


Fill a large pan with hot water, add the two vegetable stock cubes and bring to the boil.

Put another smaller pan on a medium heat and add your olive oil. Add the red onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is soft.

Add the sundried tomatoes, capers, olives, vegan mince and pepper and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and tomato puree and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Whilst the sauce is simmering cook the spaghetti in the large pan of seasoned boiling water until it is cooked to your preferred texture and drain well.

Serve each mound of spaghetti with a generous topping of ragù sauce, fresh basil leaves and a grating of parmesan (if that’s your preference).


Spaghetti Bolognese by The Fat Foodie

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Macaroni Cheese


Macaroni Cheese by The Fat Foodie

“Twas the days after Christmas

And the fridge overran

With leftover parsnips, carrots and ham

Although there were lots

Of leftovers to tease

There were none quite as numerous

As the variety of cheese

There were cheddars, camemberts,

Manchegoes and brie

And a solution was sought

To use them all up for tea

A dish that required

The inclusion of cheese

To such an extent

Made my tiny brain freeze

But then I remembered

That classic baked treat

Macaroni and cheese

Would use them up neat

So I melted my cheese

Formed a sauce rich and good

And we feasted upon

That delicious hot food.”

Macaroni cheese is a great quick standby meal when you can’t really be bothered with putting a huge amount of effort into dinner. However, this macaroni cheese has to be the most luxurious version I have ever made in my life.

Christmas day has been and gone. The madness is over and it is now time to return to some semblance of normality and, for me, that means resuming a generally fairly healthy diet again. Most of my family tend to prefer cheeses over sweet things, so it’s unsurprising that my fridge had a lot of leftover cheeses (and sour cream and chive dip) that needed used up.

When I was wracking my brain this morning over what I could make with the assortment of leftover fromage I immediately realised that macaroni cheese was the answer, particularly if I made my own cheese sauce from scratch because it would allow me to melt the cheeses into the sauce. I could also replace some of the milk for the cheese sauce with leftover dips that remained in the fridge. This used up the cheeses and dips whilst creating a beautifully thick, rich, smooth and unctuous sauce to wrap around my pasta twirls.

The addition of shards of smokey bacon crisps along with a bubbling smokey cheddar crust cuts through the sheer decadence of the cheese sauce, as does the sliced tomato, lifting the meal and preventing it from being too heavy. Don’t get me wrong, you couldn’t eat loads of this macaroni cheese because it’s so rich, but it’s a gorgeous way to use up good cheese that you don’t want to throw out. I’d suggest serving it with a fresh green salad.


250g macaroni

For the cheese sauce:

40g butter

40g plain flour

250g sour cream and chive dip

350ml milk

Around 300g of assorted cheeses (I used 100g of brie, 85g of cambozola, and 110g of Boursin)

For the topping:

100g smokey cheddar cheese (grated)

100g strong mature cheddar (grated)

3 packets of smokey bacon flavoured crisps

2 tomatoes (sliced)


Preheat your oven to 200°C/180C Fan/400°F/Gas mark 6.

Place your butter and flour in a saucepan and melt the butter into the flour to make a roux. Stir while the flour cooks in the melted butter.

Put the sour cream dip and milk into a jug, stir together and gradually add the liquid into the saucepan a little at a time, stirring all the while so that it forms a thick sauce.


Homemade Cheese Sauce by The Fat Foodie

Leave to gently simmer, stirring frequently.

In the meantime, grate or thinly slice the cheeses for the sauce. Add them into the saucepan and allow them to melt into the sauce.


Leftover Christmas Cheeses To Be Used In The Macaroni Cheese

Boil the pasta and once cooked, drain and place in a casserole dish before adding the cheese sauce and stirring together.

Top the cheesy pasta with half of the cheese, add the crisps, then the tomatoes, and top with the rest of the cheese. Add a generous sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper.

Bake in the oven until the cheesy topping is crisp, golden and bubbling.


Macaroni Cheese by The Fat Foodie About To Be Baked In The Oven


Macaroni Cheese by The Fat Foodie

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In my opinion, one of the best meals to come out of Italy is lasagne. There’s nothing quite like a hearty, beefy, cheesy pasta dish to fill the tummy. Its multi-layers allow for forkfulls of rich, tomatoey mince to meld with thick, unctious cheese sauce, with the occasional surprise of a nice piece of crispy toasted melted cheese.

Lasagnes are incredibly easy to make and the beauty of making your own instead of buying one is that you can alter the ingredients as you see fit, ensuring you have a pasta dish that suits your own taste. I like mine to have plenty of garlic in it and for the sauces to be thick enough for it to cut into slices without it completely falling apart, but other people prefer theirs to be much more liquid so that they can use buttery garlic bread to mop up the sauce.

Either way, it’s a rewarding meal that will feed lots of people. It can also reap plenty of leftovers which will keep in the fridge for a couple of days and it’ll freeze beautifully too, leaving your freezer stocked with ready meals of the best (and tastiest) quality.


500g beef mince

1 onion (diced)

2 tbsps olive oil

6-8 lasagne sheets

1 tbsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp salt

4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

100g mushrooms (chopped)

50g pitted black olives (chopped)

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

4 tbsps of tomato puree

1 Oxo cube

100ml of water

1 packet of cheese sauce mix

1/2 a pint of milk

200g grated cheddar


Put the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the mince, garlic and onion. Fry until the meat is cooked through.

Add in the oregano, salt, olives and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are soft.

Add in the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree.

Crumble the Oxo cube into the pan and stir through. If the mix is very thick then add a bit of water, but if you’re happy with the consistency then leave it as it is.

Cook the mix for a little while longer over a low heat.

In the meantime, prepare the cheese sauce as instructed on the packet.

To build the lasagne:

Put a layer of tomato mince in a square or rectangular casserole dish, followed by a thin layer of cheese sauce and place lasagne sheets on top.

Repeat until all of the ingredients are used up, reserving a bit of cheese sauce for the top.

Scatter grated cheese all over the top of the lasagne and grind black pepper over it.

Bake in the oven for 40-50 mins, or until the lasagne sheets are soft and the grated cheese is golden brown and bubbling.

Serve with garlic bread, baguette or salad. Or all of the above, because why not?




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