This Lentil Bolognese is a hearty, full flavored take on the Italian classic.
Happily there’s no need for meat in this updated vegan version of bolognese sauce. The lentils supply all the “meaty” texture and take center stage instead of beef or pork. I used Le Puy Lentils, I LOVE them! You can find my absolute favorite brand HERE:)
Why are Lentils so good for you?
- packed with protein
- full of iron
- high in fiber
- very low in fat
What is Bolognese sauce and how can it be vegan?
Originating in Bologna Italy, bolognese is a rich meat based ragu or sauce. It has a base of onions, celery and carrots known as a soffritto which are sweated down to produce a deep flavor. Meat is then added, beef and sometimes pork, along with wine, milk and tomatoes. The sauce is then simmered at length for the flavors to meld. Traditionally it was served over tagliatelle.
A vegan version has many of the same ingredients only using lentils instead of meat. I’ve left out the milk but have offered the option of a tablespoon of plant based sour cream swirled through the sauce at the end of cooking. It produces a lovely velvety texture. I also added some dried oregano and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes to provide additional layers of flavor. Whole food plant based cooking is all about adding flavor and texture.
How do you make Lentil Bolognese?
It’s very straightforward:
- Saute the onion, celery and carrot in vegetable stock.
- Add the garlic, lentils, bay leaves, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Combine well.
- Add the wine, let it bubble away for a minute or two then add the tomatoes, stock and tomato paste.
- Break up the tomatoes a little, partially cover the pot, allow to simmer away for about 45 minutes, checking occasionally that the sauce is not burning. Add a little more stock if the mixture is too thick.
- Remove from the heat and add a swirl of plant based sour cream before serving if desired and sprinkle with fresh basil and/or oregano.
- Serve on your favorite pasta with plenty more fresh herbs.
What pasta do you eat it with?
As mentioned above traditionally bolognese was served over tagliatelle. Not being a purist I recommend eating it with your favorite type of pasta.
Tips for making the best Lentil Bolognese
- Don’t be in a hurry. Really let the soffritto (onions, celery, carrots) cook down to produce a deep flavor. Make sure you simmer the sauce for at least 40 minutes before serving so the flavors can really develop.
- Serve with plenty of fresh herb.
Looking for other pasta recipes? Check out:
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A hearty vegan version of the classic Italian sauce
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: dinner,
3–4 tablespoons vegetable stock
1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
3 sticks celery, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/3 cups French Le Puy Lentils, washed
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup vegetable stock
28oz can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
2 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon whole food plant based sour cream (optional)
Fresh basil or oregano for serving
- Heat 3-4 tablespoons vegetable stock in a Dutch oven or large pan. Add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook on a medium – low heat for 10 minutes. Stir from time to time to make sure they don’t burn and add more stock if the mixture looks dry.
- Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the lentils, bay leaves, salt, pepper, dried oregano, red pepper flakes and nutmeg. Stir well.
- Pour in the red wine.
- Let it bubble away while you add the tomatoes and stock. Break the tomatoes up roughly with a knife. Stir in the tomato puree.
- Bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer and partially cover the pot. Simmer for at least 40 minutes. Check from time to time to make sure the sauce isn’t burning, if if looks too thick add a little more stock.
- When cooked swirl through a tablespoon of non dairy sour cream, sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve with your favorite pasta.
Keywords: vegan, bolognese, lentils.