This quick comforting ragu makes a wholesome mid-week meal served alongside pasta, rice or a crunchy salad. Dr Rupy Aujla puts a twist on a classic Italian dish with the addition of walnuts, aubergine, puy lentils and anchovies. It's a perfect meal for batch cooking and you can store left-overs in the freezer to use at a later date.
Dr Rupy Aujla’s aubergine and walnut ragu recipe features in his The Doctor’s Kitchen cookbook. Once you have marinated the veg, this ragu can all be made in the same pot. It’s really just a case of chucking everything in and letting it work it’s magic. Dr Rupy says: ‘Italian food is one of my go-to cuisines when I’m making a meal for more than four people. The simplicity of ingredients and cooking methods make it much less stressful in the kitchen, so you can focus on enjoying the company of your guests. Here, I’ve drastically reduced the amount of time it takes to make a traditional ragu and added nutrient-dense vegetables at every step. The nuts provide Omega-3 fats, plus lentils give the dish a good amount of fibre. In combination, these ingredients have a positive impact on your gut microbes, lower inflammation and taste delicious. I usually serve this with a simple green salad as it’s quite satisfying.’
- 200g baby tomatoes
- 400g aubergines (about 2), cut into 3cm chunks
- 50g walnuts, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 100g celery, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 10g rosemary needles, finely chopped
- 2 anchovy fillets from a tin, chopped (optional)
- 150g puy lentils, soaked in water for at least 20 minutes, then drained
- 10g dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated in warm water for 10 minutes, drained and rinsed
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 400ml boiling water
- 5–6 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
- 10g fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 15g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- sea salt and freshly
- ground black pepper
- For the marinade
- 30ml olive oil
- 20ml balsamic vinegar
- 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7.
Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Scatter the baby tomatoes, aubergine chunks and walnuts in an oven dish and pour over the marinade. Mix everything together well and bake in the oven for 30–35 minutes until the aubergine and tomatoes have softened and the walnuts have browned, tossing the mixture halfway through so it cooks evenly.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the celery, carrot, shallot and rosemary, season with salt and pepper and sauté gently for 5 minutes until softened. Add the anchovy fillets (if using), lentils and mushrooms and cook for a further 2 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse. Add the tinned tomatoes, boiling water and sun-dried tomatoes, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes until the liquid has reduced to a thicker sauce consistency. Add the roast aubergines, baby tomatoes and walnuts and simmer for 5 minutes until the puy lentils have cooked but still have a slight bite to them.
Sprinkle over the parsley and Parmesan and serve.
Top tip for making Dr Rupy Aujla’s aubergine and walnut ragu
You could also use any pre-cooked lentils you like for added protein and fibre, or you can leave them out if you prefer a less substantial meal.