Basic but Brilliant Lentil Bolognese

This basic Lentil Bolognese recipe is an essential in the vegan kitchen. Lentils are not only delicious, they’re cheap, filling and incredibly versatile and this recipe can form the backbone for all kinds of other meals.

This recipe calls for 400g of cooked puy or green lentils. To make this easier, I like to cook a whole 500g pack (dried weight) of 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 Bolognese recipe. You can also use pre-cooked tinned or packaged lentils for this recipe.

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 easy 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.

5 from 1 vote
Basic Lentil Bolognese
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins

An essential recipe for the vegan kitchen. This lentil version of a classic bolognese is delicious, versatile and easy

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Vegan
Servings: 6
Author: Louise-Claire Cayzer
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 large onion very finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot very finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 500 g cooked puy or green lentils Tinned or pre-packed is fine.
  • cup red wine
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp Marmite or Vegemite Or other yeast extract
Optional Extras- Add All or None of these. Create your Bolognese as you like it!
  • Optional extras- add all or none of these!:
  • 1 tsp Chilli powder
  • Handful halved cherry tomatoes
  • A few drops of liquid smoke
  • Fresh herbs to sprinkle on at the end
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 50 g Dried Soya Mince (This creates a more "meaty" Texture. N.B. you will need to add a little extra water if using this)
  1. In a large pan sautee the onions, garlic (if using) & carrot in the olive oil until soft.

  2. Add the tomato paste and stir until combined. 

  3. Add the lentils, herbs, wine, tin of tomatoes, Marmite or Vegemite plus any other optional extras and simmer for around 20 mins.

  4. Serve over spaghetti, or as a filling for a pie or with some mash. 

Recipe Notes

This recipe freezes well so make double or triple and freeze in portions for the basis of a quick and easy meal. 

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  • Reply
    Vegan Shepherdess Pie
    February 23, 2018 at 9:19 am

    […] the more because the scrummy mince layer underneath is made from our fave bolognese sauce made with this recipe, which means if we have a batch ready made in the freezer, this thrifty meal comes together really […]

  • Reply
    Mark Rodgerson
    March 11, 2018 at 10:12 am

    This looks and sounds delicious. I use a lot of lentils in my cooking

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