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Rich and robust, this plant-based Lentil Bolognese is hearty, “meaty” and full of depth of flavor. Toss it with your favorite pasta, or spoon it over creamy polenta- either way, this simple nourishing vegan meal is one the whole family will enjoy. With a video!

Rich and robust, this plant-based Lentil Bolognese is hearty, "meaty" and full of depth of flavor. Toss it with your favorite pasta, or spoon it over creamy polenta- either way, this simple nourishing vegan meal is one the whole family will enjoy.

The last few nights have been chilly here. The air smells of leaves and pine, and woodsmoke from chimneys nearby. It’s getting darker sooner, I’ve got my wool socks on and all I want to eat right now is pasta. And bread!  Cozy comfort food.

So this is how this recipe came to be. Brian and I were both craving something rich and “meaty” the other day, something that would hold up to a glass of red wine, all the while staying plant-based. And here it is- Lentil Bolognese!

We made a big pot of this vegan Bolognese and tossed it with pasta the first night, then served over polenta the second night. I can’t decide which way I liked it better. Both were so good!

Lentil Bolognese | 60-sec Video

Rich and robust, this plant-based Lentil Bolognese is hearty, "meaty" and full of depth of flavor. Toss it with your favorite pasta, or spoon it over creamy polenta- either way, this simple nourishing vegan meal is one the whole family will enjoy. #lentilbolognese

Ingredients in Lentil Bolognese

  • Lentils- the smaller the better! I prefer  Black Caviar lentils (or sub-French Green Lentils or Split lentils)
  • Onions and garlic – for depth of flavor
  • Carrots and celery- for sweetness and complexity
  • Fresh oregano or thyme –or substitute 2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
  • Tomato paste – to add depth and richness
  • Red wine -optional, to add complexity
  • Fresh tomatoes –or sub canned tomatoes
  • Veggie stock  -or substitute water plus veggie boullion
  • Hemp seeds  (or toasted walnuts or  pecans) for texture and richness
  • Balsamic vinegarfor a punch of flavor and brightness

ingredients in lentil bolognese

How to make Lentil Bolognese

sauteing onions in a dutch oven

Step one

Saute onion in olive oil until fragrant.

adding carrots, celery and garlic

Step two

Add carrots, celery and garlic, continue cooking and stirring about 5 minutes. Add herbs and seasonings.

Step three

Add tomato paste, browning it a bit. Deglaze -add a  generous splash of red wine and cook this off.  (Optional)

pouring wine into the pot

Step four

Add tomatoes and their juices.

adding tomatoes to the bolognese

Add the lentils, hemp seeds or walnut nuts, and broth.

adding hemp seeds or walnuts to the bolognese

Toasted ground walnuts add really great flavor- but I like the ease of adding the hemp seeds– no grinding necessary!

Keep in mind the smaller the lentils the faster the bolognese will cook! These little black caviar lentils are the best- just 20 minutes of cooking time.

adding lentils to the bolognese

Step five

Bring to a boil and cover.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes

add the broth and simmer

Step six

Once the lentils are tender, remove the lid and cook off some of the liquid.

cook off any of the liquid in the pot

Step seven

Taste and adjust seasonings, and stir in the balsamic vinegar.

taste and add balsamic vinegar

Step eight

Serve!  Spoon this over creamy polenta, or toss it with your favorite pasta.  Keep it vegan if you like or top with parmesan or pecorino cheese.

Rich and robust, this plant-based Lentil Bolognese is hearty, "meaty" and full of depth of flavor. Toss it with your favorite pasta, or spoon it over creamy polenta- either way, this simple nourishing vegan meal is one the whole family will enjoy. #lentilbolognese

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Rich and robust, this plant-based Lentil Bolognese is hearty, "meaty" and full of depth of flavor. Toss it with your favorite pasta, or spoon it over creamy polenta- either way, this simple nourishing vegan meal is one the whole family will enjoy.

On the homefront: It’s been a beautiful week here. The leaves are turning, the sun is shining, the birds are singing. Nature doesn’t seem to take notice of what is in the news and all the worldy drama and happenings, it just keeps unfolding in its own time.

Mercury is in retrograde until mid-October, meaning it has the appearance of moving backward in the sky. During this time, some believe this backward motion can disrupt travel, communication and technology. Coincidence, perhaps, but compelling given the events of this week. 😉

And while it is always good to have a healthy dose of cynicism I find this retrograde particularly interesting.  How life often mirrors a bigger story. Are we not, after all, made of stars? Lately, on a personal level, I’ve noticed, “signs” directing me to be “patient and wait”, or hold my tongue, or delay a big decision, or to not force things.

When I take heed, things are easier…

I hope you are having a beautiful start to your week friends! Enjoy this recipe for Lentil Bolognese and please share how you serve it or adapt this!

xoxo

Sylvia

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Rich and robust, this plant-based Lentil Bolognese is hearty, "meaty" and full of depth of flavor. Toss it with your favorite pasta, or spoon it over creamy polenta- either way, this simple nourishing vegan meal is one the whole family will enjoy. #lentilbolognese

Lentil Bolognese Recipe

  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine | Feasting at Home
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 35
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 1x
  • Category: vegan main, pasta,
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Rich and robust, this plant-based Lentil Bolognese is hearty, “meaty” and full of depth of flavor. Toss it with your favorite pasta, or spoon it over creamy polenta- either way, this simple nourishing vegan meal is one the whole family will enjoy.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cup carrots, small diced
  • 1 1/2 cups celery diced
  • 46 cloves garlic, rough chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes- optional
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano or thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs)
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • Generous splash red wine (optional) 1/4 cup-ish
  • 1 1/4 cup black caviar lentils (or other small lentils- see notes)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced with juices (or sub a 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes)
  • 3 1/2 cups veggie stock or broth (or sub water plus 2-3 boullion cubes)
  • 3/4 cup hemp seeds, or crushed toasted walnuts or pecans
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for 2-3 minutes stirring until fragrant. Lower heat to medium, then add the carrots, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, chili flakes, and herbs.  Saute 7-8 minutes, stirring.
  2. Add the tomato paste, browning it just a bit in the pan (this will deepen the flavor), then deglaze with wine if you want, scraping up any brown bits.  Once most of the wine has cooked off add the tomatoes and their juices, cook them down for just a few minutes.
  3. Add the lentils, veggie stock and hemp seeds or walnuts.  Bring to a boil, cover tightly, lower heat to low, and simmer gently 20-25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Uncover.
  4. Continue cooking uncovered until most of the liquid has cooked off.  Stir in the balsamic vinegar, taste, and adjust salt, pepper, vinegar and chili flakes to your liking. Keep in mind, you want this just slightly salty if tossing with pasta.
  5. Serve this tossed with your favorite pasta or serve it over this creamy polenta or this Instant Pot Polenta. Sprinkle with optional  pecorino cheese… or try this Vegan Cheesy Sprinkle!

Notes

If your veggie broth is bland or your bolognese is bland, you can intensify the depth here by adding a tiny splash of soy sauce, or miso paste mixed with a little water, or a little veggie stock bouillon paste.

Feel free to sub-French Green Lentils or Split Red lentils

This can be made ahead and will keep up to 4 days in the fridge.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 268
  • Sugar: 6.4 g
  • Sodium: 481.6 mg
  • Fat: 11.5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 30.9 g
  • Fiber: 6.6 g
  • Protein: 13.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: vegan bolognese, lentil bolognese, vegan bolognese sauce, lentil pasta sauce, lentil bolognese recipe,

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Comments

  1. I just started trying to go vegan today and this is my first attempt at cooking vegan. Wow, it’s good!

  2. This was fantastic! If you are on the fence to make this or not, make it. The whole family enjoyed it, even the non-vegans.

  3. I just added some sugar. Always add a touch to my red sauces since cooking in a New Orleans kitchen as a young person.

  4. I made this tonight and it was FABULOUS!!!! Fun to make and so delicious. Trying to incorporate more plant based meals that also have high protein and nutrition. My husband is a big meat guy and he LOVED this recipe. There is hope . . . a little at a time. Ha ha I also made your arugula pear salad with the vanilla fig dressing for a starter. WOW, what a great-company worthy meal. Thank you, Sylvia.

  5. This bolognese is lovely and has a great flavour. I use it to impress people that are used to meat versions. They love it! Thank you.

  6. We were amazed at the deep richness of this dish. I used the toasted ground walnuts, and I think that was a big part it. I also found some little lentils that looked black to me but since I couldn’t find the black caviar label I used them. They were called green French Dupuy lentils. Although they took a while to cook (30 mins?) they did not cook down and get mushy the way the orange and sometimes the regular green/brown lentils do.
    I plan to make a big batch of this and keep it in the freezer for the next time I have a dinner party. Paired with a simple salad and a hearty loaf of bread and served over fresh egg noodles, it will be a snap to pull together and a hit I’m sure.
    Thank you Sylvia for this fantastic recipe and your website with beautiful photos and step by step directions. I find myself here more and more. It is so satisfying to eat vegetarian food that stays with you and leaves a smile on your face.

  7. Love this recipe. It’s my go-to bolognese. I added mushrooms, olives and an extra small can of tomatoes.

Hi, I'm Sylvia!

Chef and author of the whole-foods recipe blog, Feasting at Home, Sylvia Fountaine is a former restaurant owner and caterer turned full-time food blogger. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest and shares seasonal, healthy recipes along with tips and tricks from her home kitchen.

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