clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Vegan Bolognese Sauce with Red Lentils

  • Author: Elena Contis
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6 Servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


If you love pasta, you need to try my vegan bolognese sauce with red lentils. In this plant-based twist on a classic Italian pasta sauce, legumes replace the meat for a deliciously hearty and healthy alternative.


  • 16 ounces of your pasta shape of choice
  • 2 tablespoons of your cooking oil of choice
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 large celery rib, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water *(see notes)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and soaked *(see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon high-quality balsamic vinegar
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Vegan parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast, fresh basil, or fresh parley for serving


  1. Rinse and pre-soak your lentils (see notes).
  2. Preheat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the oil and onions, and sauté for 3-5 minutes until fragrant, stirring occasionally. Then, add the carrots, celery, garlic, salt, and pepper, and sauté for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add in the tomato paste, oregano, and thyme, and stir well to completely coat the vegetables. It should be a thick paste consistency.
  4. If using wine, pour the wine over the veggies and give everything a good stir to deglaze the pan. Simmer for 1-2 minutes until the alcohol burns off. If not using wine, add about 1 cup of vegetable broth or water to deglaze the pan.
  5. Pour in the remaining broth or water, crushed tomatoes, and lentils into the pot, give everything a good stir, and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover tightly, and cook for 20-25 minutes stirring occasionally until the lentils are cooked through.
  7. While the lentils are cooking, cook your pasta of choice according to the box instructions in salted water. When the pasta is done cooking, drain and set aside.
  8. Once the lentils are cooked, allow the sauce to simmer more if it is still too thin for your liking or add a bit more broth or water if the sauce is too thick for your liking. Then, stir in the balsamic vinegar.
  9. Serve the lentil bolognese sauce while warm over pasta and garnish with vegan parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast, fresh basil, or fresh parsley. Enjoy!
  10. Store the sauce separately from the pasta in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Reheat on the stovetop or microwave until warmed through.


I find it extremely important to soak your lentils for the recipe in order for the lentils to cook quicker, and to get the best texture. Soaking lentils also helps with digestion and nutrition absorption! To soak lentils, first place them in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse them, picking out any debris that might have gotten packed with them. Then place the lentils in a large bowl and completely cover them with cold water. Allow the lentils to soak for at least an hour, but up to 6 hours if you have the time. Before using the lentils, drain and rinse them one more time.

If you really want to increase the complexity of the flavors in this dish, substitute in 1 cup of your favorite dry red or white wine and only use 2 cups of broth or water.

  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 Minutes
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 435
  • Sugar: 13.9g
  • Sodium: 557mg
  • Fat: 6.9g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.7g
  • Carbohydrates: 78.2g
  • Fiber: 13.5g
  • Protein: 15.6g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg