Easy, Speedy Lentil Bolognese
Bolognese is just one of those dishes that everyone ate growing up, no matter your background. In Steph’s Vietnamese household, her mum always added fish sauce – it added that extra depth of umami that she swears by. In Nic’s Cypriot household, her grandma always went heavy on the Greek oregano – a more savoury and earthy addition than its more mild Italian counterpart. All this to say that everyone holds their own idea of what makes a good bolognese, stemming from their childhood experiences. Competing with these nostalgia goggles is a lost fight, so we won’t go there.
This lentil bolognese is our big shrug to authenticity. It’s the opposite of traditional – meatless where bolognese is meaty, light where the original is rich. It does, however, remain true to one thing… its deliciousness.
What you need
- 500g spaghetti
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 cup mushrooms, diced
- 1 stick celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 cans of lentils, drained
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ cup tomato paste
- 700ml passata
- ½ cup red wine
- 2 tsp. beef bouillon paste
- 2 cups water
- 1 tsp. vegemite
- 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. sugar
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- Vegan parmesan to serve, recipe linked here
- Fresh basil
Heat olive oil in a pot on medium heat and add carrot, onion, celery and mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
Add tomato paste and cook through for a further 3 minutes before adding the oregano and thyme.
Deglaze the pot with the red wine, then add the remainder of the sauce ingredients and stir through. Cook on medium-low heat for 45 minutes. Taste the sauce for seasoning and adjust. If the sauce appears too thin – cook uncovered for a further 5-10 minutes until the sauce reaches desired consistency.
Once sauce is done, cook spaghetti as per packet instructions and drain.
Serve pasta with a generous amount of bolognese on top. Optional sprinkle with vegan parmesan, basil leaves and freshly cracked pepper. Buon appetito!
✨ RECIPE NOTES ✨
- Lentils: We use canned brown lentils in this recipe because it’s easy and we always have them on hand. But if you have dried red lentils, you can absolutely swap out the canned ones for 2 cups of those.
- Gluten free: This recipe can be made gluten free by swapping the pasta to a gluten free version and omitting the nutritional yeast. Try it!
- Simmer, simmer, simmer: If you’re making this for a weeknight dinner and just want to have a medium effort, nourishing meal and soon, then follow the recipe above. But if you have time, let this simmer over low heat for an extra hour or even two, topping up with water if necessary. Bolognese, like ragu, tastes better the longer it is cooked. Tastes even better the following day.
- Little bit of leftover sauce? My favourite treat as a kid was bolognese on toast with a slice of melted cheese for breakfast. I preferred that to the pasta the night before, if I’m honest. Try it!
- Lots of leftover sauce? Make a larger batch and freeze it to use for your next pasta meal! Pasta doesn’t always freeze the best (depending on how it’s stored, the edges can dry up), so we recommend just freezing the sauce and heating it up in the microwave or over the stove with a bit of water. Serve with a fresh batch of cooked pasta.