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Vegan Lentil Bolognese Recipe

Last Updated on October 13, 2023

Twirl your fork in this vegan lentil bolognese recipe. It’s a rich tomato bolognese sauce that has a hearty amount of French lentils.

It is then simmered in a large pot with the heat to low until the lentils are tender and softened up. This is also to give the tomato sauce a deep, rich flavor.

pasta with lentils and mushrooms

I’ve always liked a hearty pasta sauce to go over my spaghetti.

It has an elegant, and rich taste that will go over your favorite pasta. I also love the taste of lentils that give this pasta sauce an earthy and peppery taste.

Speaking of lentils, this is a great recipe that not only gives the traditional bolognese a comfort food vibe but is also budget-friendly.

So get ready to dive into a recipe that has a symphony of tastes while nourishing our body with this flavorful, elegant, and rich lentil bolognese recipe.

Vegan Lentil Bolognese Recipe – Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • This is a complete vegan meal on its own and can feed a family of 3 to 4. An amazing meal to share with everyone.
  • Lentils are nutritious, aside from tasting good.
  • You can prepare this all in one pot. You can even serve it in the Dutch oven or big pot where it’s cooked.
  • You can store it in the large pot where it is cooked and reheat it in the same pot. No more transferring to plastic containers that are hard to wash.

Ingredient Notes For Lentil Bolognese

These ingredients are chosen to help give the bolognese a deep, rich flavor that we are all familiar with.

Aside from the basic pasta, tomato puree, and some aromatics, this list includes other components that will make our bolognese extra special.

There are things here that do not normally belong in a classic spaghetti and bolognese but I will break down each ingredient for you to know each role.

  • 14 oz spaghetti or pasta of choice (400g) – This will serve as the partner to the sauce. It will help this recipe to become hearty and filling.

For The Lentil Bolognese Sauce

  • 1 small yellow onion (finely diced) – A great aromatic to start our vegan sauce. This along with garlic will be the base to help us build the flavors of this recipe.
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic – as stated with the onion, this will be the base to help deepen the flavor of our sauce.
  • 1 ½ cups of dried French lentils – This will act as the meaty element in our sauce. Lentils absorb the flavors of the sauce and also give it a little bit of texture.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil – This will help bring out the flavors of our sauce. Sauteeing the ingredients in olive oil will help soften up our aromatics and break them down.
  • 2 cups of tomato puree (Passata) – This will give our sauce the tangy, savory flavor we all want in a pasta dish. It also gives us a deep rich red color that looks very appetizing.
  • 1/3 cup of tomato paste – This will thicken our bolognese to help it stick to our pasta. And it will give our sauce that profound tomato flavor.
  • 1 3/4 cups of vegetable broth – Making a bolognese is all about building flavors. This will become a base for flavoring our sauce.
  • 1 tsp dried oregano – A great addition to our sauce. This gives off an earthy and minty note to the dish.
  • 1 tsp dried mixed Italian herbs – A mix of the usual herbs to give the recipe a classic Italian taste. It adds a great aroma as well.
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala – This will fortify and balance out the flavors of our sauce. It has an earthy, tangy, cinnamon taste that provides a fantastic savory aroma.
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar – A splash of this will give our bolognese a sweet and fruity taste that’s going to complement our tomato-based ingredients.
  • 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast – This is a healthy ingredient that’s filled with nutrients and flavor. This 
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt – This will be the seasoning we need to bring out every ingredient’s flavor. A little goes a long way.
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper – By adding black pepper we can incorporate a fruity mild heat into our recipe. This will brighten up the flavors of the dish.

For garnish:

  • Chopped fresh parsley or basil
  • more nutritional yeast

How To Make Lentil Bolognese

Cooking Pasta

  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven bring a large amount of water to a roaring boil. Seasoning the water with 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Use any pasta you prefer. In this recipe I used spaghetti.
  2. Once the water boils add a generous amount of salt and about 2 tablespoons of oil. Once it reaches a roaring boil cook your pasta as indicated by the package instructions. Normally 10-12 minutes.
  3. Drain the water and set the pasta aside. Dry the Dutch oven with a kitchen towel or heat it on the stove.

Step-By-Step Instructions For Lentil Bolognese

  1. Heat the olive oil over a medium flame on the stove. Add the onions and sauté until it becomes tender. Stir the diced onions to prevent burning. This will take about 3 to 5 minutes. Then sauté the garlic with the diced onions for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
  2. Add the tomato paste and puree into the pot along with the vegetable broth. Season with garam masala, a teaspoon of oregano, Italian herbs, garam masala, balsamic vinegar, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  3. Add the lentils and stir again. Bring the sauce to a simmer then reduce the heat to very low, and the cooking time is 25-30 minutes with the lid on until the lentils begin to tenderize. Stirring occasionally to prevent burning. 
  4. Once the lentils are cooked mix in your cooked pasta and begin to toss them into the sauce. Once the pasta has been tossed and coated, garnish with basil or parsley. Serve in equal portions on individual plates. Enjoy!
lentil mushroom bolognese
vegan lentil bolognese

Lentils in Cooking

Lentils are seeds from the legume family and are categorized usually by color.

These colors range from yellow to black and have different uses which we will cover later on.

They are also high in fiber, rich in nutrients, and are a great addition to any recipe, especially vegan dishes. Let’s look at the different colors of lentils.

Yellow and red lentils – These have a hint of sweetness and nuttiness. These are often used in curries and soups.

Green – They can vary in size and is a versatile ingredient. They take longer cooking times and have a peppery flavor. They also don’t split easily and they are often great in salads and lentil tacos.

Puy – The name comes from the French region Le Puy. They have a similar peppery taste to the green lentils but are about a third of the size. They also hold their shape well and are great for stewing and simmering.

Brown – These are the most widely eaten variety. They have an earthy flavor and can also hold their shape in cooking. They are mostly used in stews and soups as well.

Beluga – They have a black color and have a nutty flavor. They can also retain their shape while cooking and are found in braised and stew dishes.

Tips, Variations, And Substitutions

🥗 Carrots and celery – You can add this while you saute the onions. onions, carrots, and celery form a basic aromatic mix called mirepoix and are used as a base for many dishes.

🥗 Canned tomatoes or crushed tomatoes – These products can be added to help enhance and enrich the tomato flavor of the dish. You can also use chopped fresh tomatoes as well

🥗 Red wine – After the sauteing process, you can add a splash of red wine to help deglaze the pan. This will give it a robust and bold flavor and help deepen the red color. You can add or omit this ingredient as desired.

🥗 Red Pepper flakes – Though this isn’t traditional you can add these to give your vegan lentil bolognese some heat.

🥗 Walnuts – You can use chopped walnuts if they tend to be too big. These will add more texture and a nutty flavor to the pasta sauce. It also bulks up the recipe.

my profile
lentil bolognese

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. CAN YOU MAKE BOLOGNESE WITHOUT MEAT?

Absolutely! This recipe is just one of the ways to make a vegan bolognese.

By adding lentils I made my bolognese sauce heartier and more nutritious. Use your imagination and you can add things like cauliflower or eggplant as well.

2. CAN YOU BULK UP BOLOGNESE WITH ANY KIND OF LENTILS?

Yes, You can. I did it to give the bolognese sauce a meaty texture while still keeping it vegan. Make sure to use the lentil that can hold their shape while cooking.

3. WHAT KIND OF PASTA TO SERVE LENTIL BOLOGNESE WITH?

In this recipe, I used spaghetti as seen in the pictures, But you can use any kind of pasta you prefer or what is available to you.

pasta with lentils and mushrooms

Vegan Lentil Bolognese Recipe

Looking for a meat-free option that doesn't compromise on taste? Dive into our flavorful Lentil Bolognese recipe that will leave you wanting more.
5 from 15 votes
Print Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 527kcal
Author: SHU-CHUN

Ingredients

  • 14 oz Spaghetti (or 400g pasta of choice)

For The Lentil Bolognese Sauce

For Garnish

  • parsley (or basil chopped)
  • more nutritional yeast

Instructions

Pasta

  • In a large pot or Dutch oven bring a large amount of water to a roaring boil. Seasoning the water with 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Use any pasta you prefer. In this recipe I used spaghetti.
  • Once the water boils add a generous amount of salt and about 2 tablespoons of oil. Once it reaches a roaring boil cook your pasta as indicated by the package instructions. Normally 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Drain the water and set the pasta aside. Dry the Dutch oven with a kitchen towel or heat it on the stove.

Step-By-Step Instructions For Lentil Bolognese

  • Heat the olive oil over a medium flame on the stove. Add the onions and sauté until it becomes tender. Stir the diced onions to prevent burning. This will take about 3 to 5 minutes. Then sauté the garlic with the diced onions for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
  • Add the tomato paste and puree into the pot along with the vegetable broth. Season with garam masala, a teaspoon of oregano, Italian herbs, garam masala, balsamic vinegar, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  • Add the lentils and stir again. Bring the sauce to a simmer then reduce the heat to very low, and the cooking time is 25-30 minutes with the lid on until the lentils begin to tenderize. Stirring occasionally to prevent burning. 
  • Once the lentils are cooked mix in your cooked pasta and begin to toss them into the sauce. Once the pasta has been tossed and coated, garnish with basil or parsley. Serve in equal portions on individual plates. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 527kcal | Carbohydrates: 92g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 1003mg | Potassium: 732mg | Fiber: 20g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 825IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 7mg

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