A warming ragu is perfect for a cold February evening – and you can knock this veggie one, from Lola Milne’s Take One Tin, up in no time.
"When I was growing up, my aunty Sophie often made a big pan of tomatoey lentils when we went round. This version is a nod to a traditional Italian meat ragu, but I have added soft aubergine instead and served with soft polenta and wilted greens," says Milne.
How to make Lola Milne’s tomato, lentil and aubergine ragu
- 6tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 aubergines, cut into 2.5cm cubes
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2tsp fennel seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- A pinch of chilli flakes
- 200ml red wine
- 2 x 400g tins beluga lentils, drained and rinsed
- 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a large frying pan, heat two tablespoons of the oil, add the onions and soften over a low heat for about 10–15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in another frying pan, heat the remaining oil, add the aubergines and a pinch of salt, then fry on high for five to 10 minutes, stirring often until the aubergine cubes are golden. Set aside.
- By this point, the onions should be soft and tinged golden. Add the garlic, fennel seeds, bay leaves and chilli flakes. Fry for a further two to three minutes, then tip in the wine. Bring to the boil and boil until it has reduced by two-thirds in volume (this shouldn’t take more than five minutes).
- Last but not least, add the lentils, tomatoes and the browned aubergine cubes. Season and reduce the heat, then simmer for 15–20 minutes until the sauce has thickened a little and the aubergine is buttery soft.
- Just before serving, fish out the bay leaves. This ragu is great with soft polenta, pasta or served simply with a hunk of bread.
Take One Tin by Lola Milne, photography by Lizzie Mayson, is published by Kyle Books. Available now.