Vegan Lentil Bolognese

Vegan Lentil Bolognese

My vegan lentil bolognese recipe is oil free and totally delicious. It’s my favourite meal.

The ingredients

The lentils

When I make a lentil bolognese I use dried lentils. You can buy ready cooked lentils in tins or pouches, but dried lentils are so much cheaper. Unlike dried beans, lentils don’t need to be soaked before cooking, and they cook within half an hour or so. If, however, you are very short on time then leave out the extra water in step 3, and add ready cooked lentils just before serving.

I tend to use a mixture of red and green lentils. The red lentils mush down to nothing and thicken the sauce, whilst the green lentils add texture. You can use just one variety though if you prefer.

Increase the veggie quota

The recipe here is for a very basic vegan lentil bolognese. You can add plenty more vegetables to the dish if you like. Veggies such as butternut squash, aubergine, courgette and pepper all work well, and need to be added at the same time as the dry lentils. Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale or chard, need to be added once the lentils are cooked. You only need to cook them for a few minutes to allow them to wilt.

‘Meaty’ lentil bolognese

I’m personally not a massive fan of soya mince but my children like it. To make this bolognese more ‘meaty’ you can add some soya mince once the lentils are cooked. After adding the mince continue to cook for a few minutes to allow it to rehydrate and plump up.

Vegan bolognese
‘Meaty’ vegan spag bol made with soya mince

If, like mine, your family is split between soya mince lovers and non-lovers, then you can easily make two sauces in tandem. Simply remove a portion of the cooked lentil bolognese, and add soya mince to the rest.

Vegan lentil bolognese
Vegan lentil bolognese without soya mince on the left, and with soya mince on the right


If you want to add some healthy fats to the meal then include some chopped nuts or seeds. I like pasta bolognese topped with roasted pecans or raw walnuts. For details on how to roast nuts see here.

Free from: nut

Gluten, wheat free: use suitable pasta

Soya, yeast free: omit soy sauce

This is a vegan recipe 

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Vegan Lentil Bolognese
Servings: 4
  • 1 tsp soy sauce (optional)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/4 cup dried red lentils (or extra green lentils)
  • 1/4 cup dried green lentils (or extra red lentils)
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 3 good handfuls mushrooms
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • chopped fresh basil or oregano (optional)
  • salt and black pepper
  1. Chop the vegetables.

  2. Add the onion, celery and garlic to a non stick pan with a splash of water and the soy sauce if using. Turn the heat to medium and cook until the vegetables are soft, stirring lots. Add the carrot and continue to water sauté until it is soft too. If the pan starts to dry out at any time then add a little more water.

  3. Add the lentils, tinned tomatoes, mushrooms, Italian seasoning and about 1 cup of water. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Stir from time to time and if the sauce starts to dry out then add more water.

  4. When the lentils are cooked, add the tomato purée, fresh herbs and seasoning. Stir through whole grain pasta.

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