Lentil Tomato Sauce with Zoodles

Makes 4 servings      

Tomato sauce is good, but it is so much better when it’s loaded with lentils and lots of veggies! This delicious sauce was inspired by Dreena Burton’s book, Plant-Powered Families. It has become one of our family’s main staples for a tasty and filling meal. It’s delicious over zoodles, but it’s just as delicious over your favorite pasta, potatoes, rice, or even greens. So, what are you waiting for?

Ingredients for blender (Tomato Sauce Base)

3 ounces smoked sun-dried tomatoes

14-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, unsalted

1 ounce garlic cloves (about 8 cloves)

1 cup julienned carrots

1 large onion, quartered

1 cup white button mushrooms, sliced

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 cup water

½ teaspoon liquid smoke, mesquite flavor

Ingredients for Instant Pot

2 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained very well

2 tablespoons Italian herbs

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 tablespoons garlic powder

tablespoons salt-free southwest seasoning

2 tablespoons chile powder, unsalted

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

cup quick steel-cut oats

5 cups water

Tomato Sauce Base from above

⅓ cup balsamic vinegar, reduced (4% acidity)

6 tablespoons nutritional yeast

  1. To a blender, add the smoked sun-dried tomatoes, diced tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, garlic, carrots, liquid smoke, fennel seeds, and water. Blend until smooth.
  2. Add the red lentils to the Instant Pot (IP). Add the remaining herbs and spices, along with the steel-cut oats, additional water, and the tomato sauce from the blender to the IP. Do NOT add the balsamic vinegar and nutritional yeast at this point. Give the pot a quick stir through. Engage the lid, ensure that the valve is sealed, and cook for 20 minutes on the "Manual/Pressure Cook" mode.
  3. Allow the IP to release the pressure naturally for 10 minutes. Afterward, remove the lid and add the balsamic vinegar and nutritional yeast. Allow the sauce to simmer another 20 minutes. This will allow all of the flavors to blend and the sauce to thicken.
  4. While the sauce is simmering, spiralize the zoodles. Rinse, dry, and trim the ends of zucchini. If they’re long, cut them into about 4- to 5-inch pieces. Spiralize the amount desired and plate. I prefer to allow the heat of the sauce to warm the zoodles, but if desired, they can be microwaved for about 30 seconds.
  5. Top the zoodles with the Lentil Tomato Sauce. Garnish with vegan parmesan and basil, if desired. Enjoy!

Chef’s Note: The Lentil Tomato Sauce will keep in tightly sealed glass jars in the fridge for 5-7 days.  I am sure that it will freeze well too, but it never lasts that long around my house!