Swell Zine: Lentil Bolognese
Several years ago (2009?), AK of Swell Vegan published her first zine. And when I say ‘zine,’ I mean gorgeous mini cookbook. While their aren’t any photos, the black cover with gold printed design is enough to sweep you off your feet. In the days before Pinterest and everyone outdoing one another with cute, indie crafts (put a bird on it?), Swell Zine stuck out as a genuine gift of love and beauty.
AK’s blog lends the same feel as well. I first found her (or she found me, who knows) back in the early days of my blogging (probably in 2007), and I fell in love with her simple, fresh take at vegan cooking. While so many vegan blogs focused on comfort food back then, hers embraced the vegetable in its myriad of forms, and each recipe seemed to be tinted a bit by her Nordic roots. Even now, I’m amazed at the flavor profiles she dreams up–Strawberry-Rosehip Soup, Orange-Coconut Water Keffir, or Coconut-Red Curry Roasted Vegetables. For awhile she closed down the site, but then brought it back and she doesn’t post as often as she used to, but each new recipe is a treat.
Word on the street is that there might be a new zine coming out in the future and I hope that’s the case because AK’s first is a masterpiece. Only 24 pages long, the zine covers a range of recipes from appetizers to main courses, an in-depth look at tempeh and tofu, and then some desserts. I’m ashamed to admit that this is the first time I’ve actually cooked out of it, but I’ve read all the recipes and they look solid. Mole-Roasted Cauliflower, Spicy Tahini Stew, Orange-Glazed Tempeh, Sweet Potato-Cranberry Scones, Lemon Zucchini Bread. Each recipe puts the grain or protein or vegetable first. No fake cheese or faux meat here. Just simple whole foods elevated to a new level.
Yesterday, the weather was downright wintery. A high of 50 degrees (F) and raining, it was a 180 from the warm, early autumn days we’ve been enjoying. Though I’d planned on making this Lentil Bolognese later in the week, I knew last night was the evening for it–a warm, hearty pasta sauce, fresh baked bread on the side (yup, carb me up), a glass or three of red wine. Not to mention the tiny fact that our furnace isn’t up and running yet. It’s downright nippy in the house. Absolutely the best time to cozy up with a bowl of lentil bolognese!
The recipe is simple but packed with flavor–lentils, tomatoes, your basic mirepoix, red wine, and a few spices and herbs. Nothing fancy, just simple, earthy food. The only issues I had with the recipe were the cook time–I cooked the lentils for well over an hour, and they were still a little undercooked–and, subsequently, the amount of liquid–I more than tripled the amount of broth and red wine in the recipe in order to cook it longer. But those are simple issues that are easy to fix.
Simple yet so rich, this sauce made my night. It made me feel as cozy as if the furnace were running, as if I could turn on our gas fireplace and enjoy the glow. But I know I’ll be making this again later in the season when it truly is winter, maybe when there’s snow on the ground, and I know it will be exactly the right thing then too.
From Swell Zine vol. 1
1 large onion, diced
2 c carrot, diced small
1-2 stalks celery, diced small
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 c French green lentils
1/2 c red wine
1 c dark vegetable stock
1 28 oz. can tomatoes (fire-roasted is a nice choice here)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 c fresh parsley, minced
smoked paprika to serve
Heat olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat.
Add onions, carrots, and celery, and cook until soft and the onions begin to caramelize. Add garlic and lentils and stir a minute or two more.
Deglaze the pot with red wine, then add vegetable stock, tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, nutmeg, and oregano. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover, and cook 20-25 minutes, or until lentils are tender [EA note: this took over an hour for me with me adding 1/2 c more red wine and approx. 1 c more broth.)
If the sauce is too watery for your liking, cook it for a few more minutes uncovered to evaporate some of the liquid.
Stir in parsley and serve over your favorite pasta with a sprinkle of smoked paprika.