This basic vegan Lentil Bolognese recipe is a staple in our kitchen. Lentils are not only delicious, they're cheap, filling, full of protein and incredibly versatile. This recipe can be a key component for all kinds of other meals such as vegan shepherd's pie and Moussaka (this recipe is seriously good!).
If you want to know more about the best sources of vegan protein plus some other high protein recipes, we have a super helpful guide here!
🍲How to pre-cook lentils
This recipe calls for 500g (6 ½ cups) of cooked puy or green lentils. To make this easier, I like to cook a whole 500g pack (2 ¾ cups) of dried lentils all at once, adding two bay leaves and a halved onion to them. To cook, cover the lentils generously with water & simmer for around 45 minutes. Be careful not to let the water run dry. The lentils are cooked when they are squishy and tender.
I then portion them out into containers & freeze what I don't use, ready to pop into whatever it is I'm cooking... such as this easy vegan bolognese recipe. I love these glass tupperware as they're better for the environment and your health. You can also use pre-cooked tinned/canned/packaged lentils for this recipe.
🥕Ingredients & subsitutions
This is a super simple vegan lentil bolognese recipe, and the ingredients are also simple:
- Garlic, carrots and onions - these give that great base flavour.
- Lentils - any lentils will work really. I think the best are green or puy lentils. But of course you could just use any other bean too.
- Chopped tomatoes - I tend to use on standard tin/can of chopped tomatoes, but you could also blend up your own.
- Tomato paste - this add some extra thickness to the sauce! If you don't have any on hand, just leave out.
- Red wine - double check it's vegan. Many supermarkets label their wine now as vegan so it's become much easier to check. Of course, you can leave the wine out! We love this vegan red wine.
- Herbs - thyme, oregano and bay leaf (use fresh or dried).
- Vegemite / marmite - this gives that savoury deep, umami flavour. You can leave it out or use a dash or soy sauce instead.
I've also included some optional extras in the ingredients below, which will really pimp up this dish, such as dried soya mince for a more meaty texture.
This delicious vegan lentil bolognese is very simple. In summary you:
- get your ingredients ready. For the cooked lentils, you either cook them yourself from dried or can use tinned / canned lentils.
- finely chop the carrot and garlic.
- sweat the onion with the carrot and garlic until soft.
- add the tomatoes, lentils, wine and herbs. Simmer!
- cook for about 25 minutes or until the flavours have mingled.
I've included a few variations within the ingredients. Add them all... or none. Switch it up according to your tastes. Or get creative and add other extras. Different herbs, a few extra tomatoes or some other veggies can all easily be added to create interest and new flavours.
Don't just use this vegan Lentil Bolognese over spaghetti, it's also brilliant as a pie filling, under a layer of pillowy mashed potatoes for a shepherdess pie or even to make vegan sausage rolls with. The best is my moussaka recipe!
Here are the top FAQs for this vegan lentil bolognese.
We suggest Puy, Green or Beluga Lentils. You can use tinned / canned lentils, or cook lentils from dry yourself (scroll up for how to do this!).
You can just leave it out. Or add a little bit of balsamic vinegar.
To cook a whole 500g pack of dried weight lentils (6 ½ cups) add two bay leaves and a halved onion in a pan. To cook, cover the lentils generously with water & simmer for around 30-45 minutes. How long they take depends on their type and how old they are. Be careful not to let the water run dry. The lentils are cooked when they are squishy and tender.
Pasta is great.
Or mashed potatoes.
Use as a pie filling.
Or underneath mashed potatoes as a Shepherdess Pie.
They make a great burrito or taco filling too.
Yes! Just put in Tupperware or any air-tight container. It's great for those nights you don't want to cook.
I like to serve my lentil Bolognese with some vegan 'parmesan' (also known as Pangritata) - Find my easy to make recipe for it here: Vegan Parmesan: Cheezy, Spicy, Herby Crunchies for Pasta (Pangritata)
We're big fans of pasta here at The Vegan Larder. Why not try some of these recipes too:
- Garlicky White Beans & Greens Pasta
- Vegan Smoked Garlic & Wild Mushroom Pasta
- For a super quick recipe: Vegan Creamy Cannellini Bean & Tomato Pasta
How do you make your lentil bolognese? Leave your comments below!
Basic Lentil Bolognese
For accuracy, I measure all ingredients in metric as standard, then convert and test the recipe for American cup measurements etc.
(Heads up Aussie and UK readers- your measurements in cups are sometimes different, so please use metric or check you have the correct cup and spoon type!!)
- 400 g (1⅔ cups) chopped tomatoes (1 standard tin/can is 400g or 1⅔ cups)
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 large onion (very finely chopped)
- 1 large carrot (very finely chopped)
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 500 g (~6 cups) cooked puy or green lentils (equivalent to standard ~2 tins/cans)
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) red wine
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon marmite or vegemite (or other yeast extract)
Optional Extras- Add All or None of these. Create your Bolognese as you like it!
- In a large pan sautee the onions, garlic & carrot in the olive oil until soft.
- Add the tomato paste and stir until combined.
- Add the lentils, herbs, wine, tin/can of chopped tomatoes, marmite or vegemite plus any other optional extras and simmer for around 20 mins.
- Serve over spaghetti, or as a filling for a pie or with some mash.