This vegetarian Lentil Bolognese is the ultimate healthy comfort food. It’s loaded with vegetables and lentils and can be enjoyed on your favourite pasta, spaghetti squash, or even on its own! 

spaghetti with lentil bolognese in a white speckeld pasta bowl and a napkin on the side

Easy vegan bolognese

In the mood for some comfort food? You’re in the right place!

This Lentil Bolognese recipe is the ultimate comforting meal to cozy up with on a cold night. It’s loaded with vegetables, lentils and red wine for a flavour-packed bolognese. Plus this recipe gives you an excuse to open that bottle of red wine and even pour yourself a glass while you cook, I won’t tell 😉

This is one of my top dinner recipes to make when I want a hearty and cozy meal, along with my Vegan Ramen Stir Fry and my Peanut butter noodles.

You’ll need to devote a little more time to make this pasta sauce, but what’s the rush anyway? Time is your friend when making a super-rich and flavourful bolognese sauce! And trust me, it’s SO worth it. Time is actually the secret ingredient that makes a bolognese taste so delicious. It allows all the flavours to really come out and creates a sauce that is just so damn good.

Why you’ll love this vegan bolognese

  • Packed with flavour. This bolognese is the ultimate comfort food. It’s packed with cozy warming flavours and delicious to enjoy on pasta, spaghetti squash or rice.
  • Vegan and gluten-free. While this lentil bolognese is vegan and gluten-free, I promise any meat-eaters will fall in love with this recipe! (Some may not even know that it doesn’t have meat in it!)
  • Perfect for meal prep. As the sauce sits in the fridge for a couple days, the flavours will intesify making it even more delicious. That makes it a great dish to make for meal prep at the beginning of the week.
  • Freezer-friendly. This bolognese freezes like a dream! It will store well in the freezer for up to 3 months in a sealed container.
  • Super nutritious. Each serving of this bolognese has 240 calories, 14 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein!

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Portobello mushroom
  • Red pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Red wine
  • Lentils
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Bay leaves
  • talian seasoning
  • Oregano
  • Coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • pasta

How to make Lentil Bolognese (step-by-step instructions)

Step 1

Roughly chop the vegetables then add them to a food processor. Pulse the veggies in a food processor until finely chopped like in the picture below. Make sure not to over-process the vegetables. You don’t want them to turn to mush!

Step 2

Heat some olive oil in a large pot then add the vegetables to brown. Let the vegetables simmer for about 15 minutes stirring constantly to prevent them from burning. (Don’t rush this step and only cook them for a few minutes. You want them to really cook down and build flavour.)

Step 3

Next, add the red wine. And not just a splash, an entire 3/4 cup of red wine. Again, don’t skip this and use water or broth instead! Red wine is a key ingredient in baking this bolognese taste incredible. Let the wine cook-off in the pot. Then add the crushed tomatoes and lentils, Italian seasoning and oregano and stir everything together.

Step 4

Give the lentil bolognese about 20-30 minutes simmering on low. Or if you have the time, let it cook on low for up to an hour. Then, use an emulsion blender (or regular blender) and pulse the mixture just slightly to break it down. Don’t over pulse it though! You want to make sure to have texture in your bolognese.

Boil your favourite pasta, some spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, rice, or however you like. Top it off with some fresh basil or parsley and parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast or vegan cheese.

a white bowl filled with spaghetti and lentil bolognese and two smaller bowls on the side with parsley and parmesan cheese

How to store bolognese

Fridge: store any leftover bolognese sauce in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 7 days. The flavour of the bolognese will actually intensify after a day and it will taste even better! Reheat the bolognese sauce in a pot on the stove or in the microwave.

Freezer: Let the bolognese cool completely then transfer to a freezer-safe container. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. To defrost let the container sit on the countertop until dinnertime, or defrost it in the microwave on the “defrost” setting.

Lentil bolognese FAQ

What is the best type of pasta to serve with bolognese?

Bolognese is often served with spaghetti (aka spaghetti bolognese)which is a traditional recipe in America. However, you can serve the bolognese on many different shapes of pasta. Any pasta with some ridges like penne, rigatoni or tagliatelle will hold onto the sauce well so you get more of that delicious bolognese in every bite.

Can you freeze lentil bolognese?

Absolutely! This is one of the most freezer-friendly recipes and holds up so well in the freezer for up to 3 months.

What lentils are best for bolognese?

French lentils or green lentils are best for this bolognese as they hold their shape and texture when being cooked which we want for this sauce. Some other types of lentils like red lentils will fall apart too much and become mushy in the sauce.

How do you reheat lentil bolognese?

You can reheat this recipe in the microwave or in a pot on the stovetop.

Can I make this recipe gluten-free?

Yes! The bolognese sauce is gluten-free, so just make sure to use your favourite gluten-free pasta.

Tips for making this recipe perfectly

  • Give the veggies time to brown in the pan. Don’t rush through this step and only cook them for 5 minutes! Browing the veggies builds flavour which is essential for a delicious vegetarian bolognese.
  • Don’t replace the red wine in this recipe with water or broth. Red wine is also essential in this dish for making a super flavourful bolognese sauce. Any type of red wine will work.
  • You can substitute the crushed tomatoes with diced tomatoes. Diced tomatoes will give you a bit more of a chunky bolognese.
  • French lentils or beluga lentils work best in this recipe. Don’t substitute with red lentils.
  • Make sure to remove the bay leaves before blending the sauce! Bay leaves are very tough and it will be unpleasant to eat little chunks of them.
  • Only blend the sauce ever so slightly! Don’t go crazy and blend it up into a puree. You want the sauce to still have a nice chunky texture and be able to see some pieces of lentils in there.
  • Add red pepper flakes for some heat. Like your sauce spicy? Try adding a teaspoon or two of crushed red pepper flakes (also called chilli flakes) to the bolognese sauce
a close up of spaghetti in a bowl topped with lentil bolognese

More lentil recipes to try

If you tried this Lentil Bolognese or any other recipe on the blog let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment/rating below! Be sure to follow along on PinterestInstagram and Facebook for even more deliciousness!

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spaghetti with lentil bolognese in a white speckeld pasta bowl and a napkin on the side

Lentil Bolognese

  • Author: Jessica Hoffman
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Cook
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

A delicious and Comforting Lentil Bolognese sauce that is vegetarian/vegan-friendly, gluten-free and packed with flavour!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 big carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 portobello mushroom
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 2 cups cooked lentils (I use french lentils)
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 large handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • pasta, spaghetti squash, rice…etc. for serving

Instructions

  1. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, mushroom, and pepper to a food processor and chop into small bits.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan on medium-high heat and add in the chopped vegetables and salt.
  3. Brown the vegetables in the pan for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. (Do not skip this step! Browing the vegetables is where all the flavour happens!)
  4. Once the vegetables are browned, add in the wine. Cook on medium heat until the wine evaporates.
  5. Next, add in the lentils, and crushed tomatoes, and the rest of the ingredients (except the pasta) and mix together until well combined.
  6. Lower the heat to low, add in the water and let cook down for another 20 minutes.
  7. Remove the bay leaves and slightly pulse the sauce with an emulsion blender.
  8. Serve over your favorite spaghetti or pasta.

Notes

Store leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for 7 days or in the freezer for 3 months. 

For the tastiest results don’t replace the red wine in this recipe with water or broth. Red wine is essential for a delicious and flavourful bolognese! 

Use green lentils or french lentils in this recipe for the best results. Red lentils won’t hold their texture and will become mushy in the sauce. 

Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves before pulsing the sauce. You don’t want to end up with little chunks of bay leaves mixed in.

Add 1 tsp of red pepper flakes if you like your bolognese sauce spicy. 


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/6th of recipe
  • Calories: 240
  • Sugar: 8g
  • Sodium: 370mg
  • Fat: 5g
  • Carbohydrates: 35g
  • Fiber: 14g
  • Protein: 11g

Keywords: vegetarian bolognese, vegan bolognese, healthy bolognese