This vegan lentil bolognese is rich, hearty, “meaty,” and bursting with flavor. It’s a comforting, delicious dinner made entirely of budget-friendly ingredients!

 

It has been a lovely week here. The birds are chirping, the leaves are changing color, and the sun is shining. Nature just seems to continue evolving in its own time, seemingly unfazed by what is happening in the world or what is reported in the news.

Anyhow, the last few weeks have indeed been chilly here. Pine, leaves, and wood smoke from neighboring chimneys filled the air. One evening, it was getting darker earlier, and I wore my wool socks. Devon and I both had a craving for something hearty and “meaty,” something that would stand up to a drink of red wine while remaining plant-based. Devannah said it could be pasta or some sort of cozy comfort soup. Finally, lentil Bolognese is here!

That’s the backstory to this dish’s formation. 

I prepared a large batch of this lentil Bolognese and served it with Spaghetti the first night, then over brown rice the next. I’m not sure which way I preferred more. Both were excellent!

Additionally, this comforting and satisfying meal is made using only inexpensive pantry staples. Many of my go-to pasta recipes, in fact, rely on ingredients found in the pantry but never compromise on taste. Check out Tomato Spinach Pasta, Tomato Pesto Pasta, Vegan Pesto Pasta, Easy Vegan Rotini Pasta, and Vegan Rasta Pasta.

Vegan Lentil Bolognese

What Is Bolognese?

Originally from the Italian city of Bologna, bolognese is a remarkably rich meat sauce. Typically, this sauce is made with fatty beef or pork that has been cooked down with finely diced veggies (onion, celery, and carrot). The ragu is given a tomato foundation by adding tomatoes or tomato sauce, and the sauce is then thickened further by adding white wine and milk. Usually, pasta is topped with this extra-rich sauce.

Appealing Features!

  • Simple: It’s made with all pantry staples! But even a few ingredients add depth and flavor to the sauce.
  • Protein-rich: Wholesome lentils will give your bolognese protein and a meaty flavor; no artificial meat is required!
  • Comforting and hearty: It is rich, hearty, and umami-rich and it adheres to your ribs.
  • Healthy and wholesome: Nourishing ingredients like lentils and tomatoes are used to make this bolognese. Lentils are a low-key superfood that can help prevent anemia and may aid in weight reduction and maintenance due to their high protein and slow-digesting fiber content. You can make it even healthier by using whole-wheat pasta. It is dairy, gluten, and vegan-free.
  • Family Favorite: Everyone in the family will like this simple, nourishing vegan meal. Even the most ardent meat eaters will enjoy this!
  • Budget-friendly: All ingredients are common pantry items! Making this dish cost me between $9 and $12, depending on the quality of the products I used.

Ingredients Required For Lentil Bolognese

  • Lentil: I used green and brown lentils, but you may also use red or black lentils.
  • Olive oil: I used olive oil due to its abundant vitamins, vital fatty acids, minerals, and antioxidants. To make it oil free you can use water.
  • Onion: Use any — white, red, or yellow onions — work well.
  • Garlic: How I can forget to add aromatic garlic? It is a fantastic flavoring ingredient. Try to use freshly minced garlic for greater flavor.
  • Red bell pepper: I love the vibrant color of the red bell pepper, but any color pepper will do.
  • Celery: Celery is a nutrient-dense vegetable. It has a salty, somewhat sour flavor when cooked.
  • Carrot: It not only adds nutrition to this bolognese recipe but also gives it a striking color.
  • Tomatoes: I used 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes with basil.
  • Dried basil leaves: For added flavor and aroma.
  • Thyme: The thyme imparts an irresistible aroma to the dish.
  • Oregano: This lovely herb imparts a pleasant, somewhat unexpectedly earthy flavor to a variety of dishes.
  • Spaghetti: I used brown rice.
  • Cayenne Pepper: Cayenne pepper adds a kick to this dish that you’ll like. If you don’t have cayenne pepper, paprika will suffice.

How To Make Lentil Bolognese?

  1. If using dried lentils, sort and rinse lentils, drain, and place in a large saucepan with 3 cups of water.
  2. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, cover leaving the lid slightly open.
  3. Reduce heat to simmer for about 30-40 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Heat oil on medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in garlic, bell pepper, celery, and carrots.
  6. Add, chopped tomatoes, basil, thyme, oregano, and cayenne pepper.
  7. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  8. Stir in lentils and salt to taste.

While the sauce is cooking, cook spaghetti.

  1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Add spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain.
  3. Serve spaghetti topped with lentil bolognese sauce.

How To Serve Bolognese

We enjoy this with a variety of pasta, though linguine is our favorite. With fusilli, my daughter adores it. Also delicious served over gluten-free pasta and sprinkle with vegan Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. We also enjoy using any leftovers to stuff baked potatoes!

Vegan Bolognese

Recipe Notes

  • Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary.
  • The sauce can be refrigerated for up to three days. or refrigerated for up to a month. To serve, simply slightly reheat portions after defrosting them overnight at room temperature.
  • Take your time; your bolognese will taste better if you cook the onions, the vegetables, and the sauce for a longer time. The additional time allows the flavors to meld and make a nice, rich sauce. This is a slow-cooked bolognese, not a spag bol.
  • The onion, carrot, bell pepper, and celery should be chopped into roughly the same size pieces. If you want them to finish cooking at the same moment, chop them into uniformly small pieces, as I do.
  • I enjoy adding a small amount of premium balsamic vinegar to complete my red sauces. Richness is countered by acidity, and tomatoes go well with the faint sweetness. If you don’t have a high-quality one, leave it out.
  • Even though you can make this recipe with only very inexpensive ingredients, it would be better if you could spend a little extra money on a few better-quality ingredients. When there aren’t many ingredients in a recipe, it’s even more important to find and buy the best ones you can.
  • Before you begin anything else, soak your green and brown lentils. You must soak them in cold water for at least 30 minutes, and up to 1 hour. As a result, they become softer. If you do not soak the lentils, it will take between 45 and 60 minutes for them to become tender in the bolognese.

I personally love lentils, they are high in protein, very nutritious, and can be prepared without soaking I have made other amazing recipes like mine:

Substitutions

  • Lentils: I used green and brown lentils in this recipe, but you could easily swap bean-like kidney beans instead. This dish would be perfect as a kidney bean chili if you just added some chili sauce. If you’re not vegetarian or vegan, you can also use beef mince in place of the lentils.
  • Herbs: You can always omit a particular herb from the dish if you don’t have access to it or don’t care for it. The Lentil Bolognese will still taste delectable even though the flavor would be the same because of the other ingredients rich, juicy flavors.
  • Onion: In this recipe, I used a red onion, but a white onion and yellow would work just as well.
  • Tomatoes: You can use tubed tomato paste instead. The way in which tubed tomato paste is prepared and preserved enhances its taste and imparts a more authentic tomato flavor.
  • Jamaican Lentil Patties
  • Lentil Meatballs
  • Vegan Lentil Stew
  • Vegan Lentil Loaf
  • Creamy Lentil Pasta
  • Instant Pot Lentil Soup
  • Lentil Curry Lettuce Cups

Vegetarian Bolognese Sauce Recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make This Lentil Bolognese Sauce Ahead?

Yes, you can prepare this dish a few days ahead of time. Allow it to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

Can I Freeze This Lentils Bolognese?

Yes! This freezes beautifully. Let the bolognese cool down first. Separate the sauce into bags or containers that can be frozen. Before freezing, plainly label the bags or containers. Utilize within a month, and completely defrost before cooking.

How Do You Reheat The Bolognese Sauce?

To reheat the leftover bolognese sauce, heat it in a saucepan over medium heat until warm, and thin it out with water or veggie broth if necessary. Alternately, rewarm in a microwave-safe dish.

If frozen, fully defrost in the refrigerator before reheating. You can also thaw freezer leftovers by adding them to a saucepan, adding water to thin them out, covering the pan, and simmering it for 20 to 30 minutes.

How Else Can I Serve Bolognese?

As a lighter alternative to spaghetti, the bolognese can also be served over noodles made from zucchini or sweet potato. This mixture can also be used to make a vegan version of “chili cheese nachos” or as a topping for nachos.

 

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Vegan Lentil Bolognese

This comforting and hearty Vegan Bolognese is so delicious. It's one of those recipes that will be your go-to recipes, seriously!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Entrée, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Vegan lentil bolognese
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 486kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups green lentils brown lentils, cooked (about 1 cup dried)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or 1/4 cup water
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 stalk celery chopped
  • 1 medium carrot finely diced
  • 1 28- ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 8 ounces spaghetti (I used brown rice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper optional

Instructions

  • If using dried lentil, sort and rinse lentil, drain and place in a large saucepan with 3 cups of water.
  • Bring to boil on medium-high heat, cover leaving the lid slightly open.
  • Reduce heat to simmer for about 30-40 minutes. Set aside.
  • Heat oil on medium high heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in garlic, bell ppper, celery and carrots.
  • Add, chopped tomatoes, basil, thyme, oregano, and cayenne pepper.
  • Cover and simmer for 20 minutes until sauce thickens.
  • Stir in lentils and salt to taste.
  • While sauce is cooking, cook spaghetti.
  • Bring water to boil in a large pot.
  • Add spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain.
  • Serve spaghetti topped with lentil bolognese sauce.

Nutrition

Calories: 486kcal | Carbohydrates: 86g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 23mg | Potassium: 1270mg | Fiber: 28g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 3125IU | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 90mg | Iron: 7mg