Rich in plant-based protein and suitable for vegetarians and vegans, this lentil bolognese is equally perfect for spaghetti bolognese and shepherd's pie, and so much more.
Lentil bolognese - or lentil ragu - is the ultimate in hearty comfort food. Packed full of goodness - both in the form of tasty veggies and plant-based protein, it’s a brilliant recipe to have in your repertoire.
I’ve made it at in my work as a community cook in batches of 100. I make it at home for my children. And I’ve made it for friends.
The recipe below is my tried and tested lentil bolognese that I’ve made time and time again. I hope you love it as much as we do.
Lentil bolognese is so versatile
There is just so much you can do with it. I’ve been making lentil bolognese for years and I’m still finding new ways to serve it.
Jacket potato filling, served with pasta or spaghetti, instead of meat in a shepherd’s pie. And that’s just a few ideas (scroll down to see more).
It’s a great way to eat your five a day. Plus it’s a great source of veggie and vegan protein.
What ingredients do you need to make lentil bolognese?
For full recipe please see recipe card below.
- Olive oil
To fry your vegetables.
- Onion, carrots, celery
A classic base for many sauces, stocks and stews, the trio of onion, carrots and celery is known as mirepoix in French cooking.
- Red lentils
Full of protein, lentils are the key ingredient here. Buy split red lentils as the whole ones (which are less common) take longer to cook.
- Tinned chopped tomatoes
For a delicious sauce for your bolognese.
- Tomato purée
Adds depth of flavour and helps to thicken the sauce
- Sun dried tomatoes
Can be omitted if you don’t have any but they do add a lovely flavour.
- Miso paste or marmite (yeast extract)
Gives your bolognese an umami kick. Optional
- Vegetable stock
Homemade is great but a stock cube works just fine. You can also make this with hot water.
- Dried oregano or mixed herbs
- Sea salt, black pepper and lemon juice
Season to taste
Can you add extra veggies?
Absolutely. One of the things I love most about lentil bolognese is that it’s a great vehicle to add pretty much any veg you fancy to.
It already contains onions, garlic, carrots, celery and tomatoes (strictly speaking a fruit but they still count). Mushrooms, courgettes and peppers are all great additions.
Make it your own
These additions will all add a delicious flavour boost to your lentil bolognese but are totally optional.
- mushrooms (a handful, chopped)
- red peppers (one, chopped)
- courgette (one, chopped)
- sun-dried tomatoes (two or three, finely chopped)
- miso paste or marmite (a tablespoon)
- smoked paprika (a teaspoon)
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (a tablespoon)
- chopped flat leaf parsley (a handful, finely chopped)
Can you use other kind of lentils?
I like to use red lentils because they don’t need to be soaked in advance and cook quickly.
However, you could replace them with tinned or freshly cooked puy, green or brown lentils if you prefer.
Lentil bolognese keeps very well. Once cooked allow to cool completely then transfer to an airtight container. Store in the fridge for up to three days.
This is a brilliant choice for batch cooking as it freezes very well. Allow to cool completely and then transfer to a freezer bag or box.
Leave a little space at the top for the food to expand as it freezes.
Label with the recipe name and date and freeze for up to three months.
How to use lentil bolognese
- jacket potatoes
- pasta or spaghetti
- rice or other grains and salad
- in shepherd’s pie
- stew with dumplings
- taco filling
More vegan sauce recipes you might like
- Cauliflower sauce
- Roasted butternut squash sauce
- Carrot pasta sauce
- Creamy tomato sauce
- Lentil and roasted cauliflower sauce
Pin lentil bolognese for later
How to make lentil bolognese
For full recipe please see recipe card below.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the onion, carrot and celery.
- Cover with a lid and sweat until soft. Add the garlic and fry for a few more minutes.
- Add the tomato purée, miso paste, herbs and sundried tomatoes. Cook for a minute.
- Mix in the lentils and tomatoes.
- Cover with vegetable stock, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Stirring often, cook until the lentils are soft. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
If you have made this recipe I would love it if you’d leave a comment and rating below. Thank you!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 carrots diced
- 2 sticks celery chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon miso paste or marmite (yeast extract) optional
- 1 tablespoon tomato purée
- 3 sundried tomatoes chopped, optional
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or mixed herbs
- 800 g tinned chopped tomatoes 2 standard tins
- 300 g split red lentils
- 500-750 ml vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ lemon juiced
- Handful flat leaf parsley chopped
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan (choose one you have a lid for).
- Add the chopped onions, celery and carrots and stir until coated in oil. Reduce the heat and cover the pan with a lid. Sweat for 10-15 minutes until softening.
- Add the chopped garlic and fry for a minute or two.
- Add a tablespoon of tomato purée, a tablespoon of miso paste (if using), three chopped sundried tomatoes (if using) and a teaspoon of dried oregano or mixed herbs.
- Next pour in two tins of chopped tomatoes and 300g red lentils.
- Stir well then add 500ml vegetable stock.
- Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid adding extra hot water or stock as needed until lentils are cooked. Stir often to stop the lentils sticking.
- Taste and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice
- Sprinkle over parsley
- Serve with pasta or your favourite dish.