This Lentil Bolognese is hearty, healthy and comforting, and you’ll have it on the table in half an hour.
Everyone will love tucking into this hearty Bolognese, and few will realise that it doesn’t contain meat. It’s a great dinner for nights when you feel like you might need a bit of a health reset, but you don’t want to feel hungry at the end of it.
What can I put in Bolognese instead of meat?
In this recipe we’re using mushrooms and canned lentils instead of meat. The mushrooms and lentils give it a really satisfying meaty taste and heft, and the clever use of sauces like Worcestershire sauce give it that warming depth of flavour.
How do you add richness to Bolognese sauce?
Time, of course, is one way to really deepen the flavour of your Bolognese. Low simmer for a long time. But if, like me, you’re low on time, use these ingredients to add richness to your Bolognese sauce.
- Tomato paste for richness
- Brown sugar to balance the tomato paste
- Worcestershire sauce gives a beautiful depth of flavour
- Soy sauce to give it salty goodness
- Butter (yes, butter) to help caramelise the onion
- Red wine vinegar for acid
There you have a beautifully balanced dish - and a deep, rich flavour in half an hour.
Top tip for Lentil Bolognese
Because we want this to cook quickly, make sure your vegetables are chopped nice and small - this will help our onions caramelise and the vegetables feel part of the sauce - rather than distinct pieces floating in a soup.
- Alternative proteins - You can add meat to this dinner to make it a traditional Bolognese if you want - I like a combination of pork and beef mince. Brown your mince then add the vegetables.
- Vegetarian - This dinner is vegetarian.
- Gluten Free - Swap curly fettuccine for GF pasta. Swap soy sauce for tamari. Make sure you are using GF Worcestershire sauce.
- Dairy Free - Use olive oil in place of butter, and use DF shredded parmesan.
Kid-Friendly Variations for Lentil Bolognese
- Serve plain pasta with Bolognese on the side.
Equipment for Lentil Bolognese
You will need a pot, a stovetop, a deep frying pan or casserole dish.
More Pasta Recipes
If you like pasta dinners, you should try
- Deep frying pan or casserole dish
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 red onion
- 1 red capsicum
- 200 g mushrooms
- 350 g curly fettuccine
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 1 can cherry tomatoes 400 g
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ bunch basil
- 100 g parmesan block
- 1 can lentils 400 g
- Black pepper
- Place a large pot of water with a teaspoon of salt on high heat. Cover so it boils quickly.Salt
- Peel and finely chop garlic. Peel and finely dice red onion. Chop capsicum into bite size pieces. Finely slice mushrooms.3 cloves garlic, 1 red onion, 1 red capsicum, 200 g mushrooms
- Place pasta in boiling water and set a timer for 10-12 minutes (according to packet instructions). Drain when cooked and set aside.350 g curly fettuccine
- Place a large deep frying pan over medium high heat and add butter, olive oil, dried oregano, garlic and onion, and saute for 2 minutes.3 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, 1 red onion
- Add capsicum and mushrooms to the frying pan and saute for 2 more minutes, or until tender.1 red capsicum, 200 g mushrooms
- Add canned cherry tomatoes, vegetable stock, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 6-8 minutes, stirring regularly, or until tomatoes have softened and sauce has reduced.1 can cherry tomatoes, 1 cup vegetable stock, 2 tablespoon tomato paste, 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- Meanwhile roughly chop basil leaves. Finely grate parmesan.½ bunch basil, 100 g parmesan
- Drain and rinse lentils, then add to the sauce with half the basil. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Taste and season with salt and pepper as required.1 can lentils, Black pepper, Salt
- To serve kids, serve some plain pasta with bolognese sauce on the side and parmesan if they want it.To serve adults, divide pasta between bowls, add the sauce and then top with parmesan and remaining basil.100 g parmesan