90 days, 11 hours, 58 minutes, 31 seconds…..

Thanks to my iphone, I know exactly how long until my much anticipated trip to Italy.  I’m a tad excited.

I have never been to Italy, but I have a feeling it is going to steal my heart.  Can we say pasta? pizza? gelato? wine? Oh baby!  I have all intentions to eat my way through the country.  I can’t wait.

Until then, I am going to practice my pasta-eating skills.  My life is so hard.

Enjoy this hearty and healthy take on the Italian classic: bolognese sauce.  Lentils replace the meat adding healthy, lean, substance with all the classic flavors of the original.

Lentil Bolognese

Serves 6

Note:  You can easily make this vegan by omitting the milk (I just stirred this in at the end of cooking for a richer sauce) and parmesan.  If you have an old parmesan rind hanging around (start saving them in your freezer when you finish a block of parmesan), add it to the sauce while it cooks, it melts and lends it’s flavor to the sauce.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion diced

1 celery stalk diced

1 large carrot diced

3 garlic cloves minced

1 1/2 cups French green lentils

28 oz can diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups dry white wine

14 oz vegetable broth

2 sprigs thyme

parmesan rind (optional, but highly recommended)

1/2 cup milk (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onions, carrot, and celery to pot and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and lentils and cook until fragrant, about 1 minutes.  Add tomatoes, wine, broth, thyme springs, and parmesan rind (if using).  Bring mixture to a steady simmer and cook until lentils are tender, about 1 hours.  If sauce seems too dry and lentils are not cooked, add additional broth or water as needed.

Remove sauce from heat and remove thyme and parmesan rind.  Stir in milk if using.  Serve over spaghetti or fettuccine.