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Lentil Bolognese

This savory (and vegan) Lentil Bolognese will be your new favorite way to top pasta! The Bolognese is loaded with veggies, lentils, tomatoes, and plenty of seasonings. This meal is hearty, nutritious, protein-packed, and filling.
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Lentil Bolognese
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 6 - 8 servings
Calories 392kcal
Cost $7.12


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup (125g) EACH: diced yellow onion, diced carrot, diced celery
  • 1 container (8 oz; 226g) finely diced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (~5 cloves)
  • 1/4 cup (56g) tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: dried thyme, dried basil, dried oregano, dried Italian seasoning
  • Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 1/2 cup (125g) 100% Concord grape juice
  • 1 can (28 oz; 793g) fire-roasted diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 1 can (28 oz; 793g) fire-roasted crushed tomatoes (undrained)
  • 2 cups (490g) vegetable broth
  • 1 cup (209g) dried brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 package (16 oz; 454g) spaghetti


  • VEGGIES: Add the olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add in the diced onion, carrot, and celery. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add in the diced mushrooms and sauté for another 3-5 minutes or until veggies have cooked down and are mostly tender. Add in the garlic and stir constantly for 1 minute.
  • SEASONINGS: Add in the tomato paste and all of the seasonings: the dried thyme, dried basil, dried oregano, and dried Italian seasoning. Season to personal preference (I add 1 and 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1 teaspoon pepper). Cook and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • GRAPE JUICE: Add the grape juice and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 3 -5 minutes.
  • TOMATOES: Add the diced tomatoes and crushed tomatoes and stir for 1-2 minutes. Next, add in the vegetable broth, and the rinsed/picked over lentils. Bring to a boil and add in the bay leaves.Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes or until lentils are tender and the sauce has thickened. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings as needed (I typically add another 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt here).
  • PASTA: Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions. Make sure to generously salt the water (I add 1 teaspoon to every 4 cups of water), since under-salted pasta water will make the whole dish will taste under-seasoned. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and then drain pasta and set aside. Add pasta to a plate or bowl and top with the sauce or emulsify (see next step).
  • OPTIONAL EMULSIFY: (see Note 1) Place a portion of the Bolognese sauce in the same pot used to cook the pasta. Add hot drained pasta right on top. Toss the pasta and sauce gently for a couple of minutes, slowly adding reserved pasta water as needed until the sauce thickens and generously coats the noodles. Return this emulsified sauce to the rest of the sauce.
  • ENJOY: Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and parsley, if desired.


Note 1: Emulsifying the pasta is totally optional, but if you're feeling fancy, try it! Toss the finished Lentil Bolognese sauce with reserved pasta water and hot pasta. This is called emulsifying and is one of the secrets to great Italian pasta. It's how you get a luxurious sauce that coats every bit of pasta. More info here ? 


Calories: 392kcal | Carbohydrates: 72.4g | Protein: 16.6g | Fat: 5.2g | Sodium: 180.5mg | Fiber: 8.4g | Sugar: 11.3g