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.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 1/2 cup carrots, small diced
- 1 1/2 cups celery diced
- 4–6 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 hearts, or ground toasted walnuts or pecans
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
If using hemp- use the shelled soft “hearts”- not the whole seeds ( these will be gritty).
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.
This can be made ahead and will keep up to 4 days in the fridge.
- 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,