This Red Lentil Bolognese recipe is vegan-friendly and packed with flavor and nutrition! Toss it with pasta or zucchini noodles, or serve it on top of grilled chicken.
This dish is a little nostalgic for me, but not in the way you’d expect.
This Lentil Bolognese recipe has no personal significance aside from the fact that it’s the last recipe I have that hasn’t been shared on my blog yet that I made and photographed in Kuwait when Mike and I were still living there. We left there last summer, so that shows you how long I’ve had this recipe in my queue!
It’s time this deliciousness saw the light of day. And you’re in luck because it’s a hum-dinger!
My Lentil Bolognese has a very different flavor profile from Beef Bolognese. It has complexity from onion and garlic sautéed in olive oil. Vegetable stock adds depth, and if keeping it vegetarian isn’t a concern, you can use chicken stock instead. It’s slightly smoky thanks to the use of smoked paprika. And a touch of heavy cream or coconut milk give it a velvety consistency and a touch of richness.
How to Use Lentil Bolognese
You can use this sauce any way you’d use regular tomato sauce: layered into lasagna, as a sauce for pizza, or tossed with pasta.
If you’re going to go the route of pasta, I find that this recipe makes enough sauce to generously coat about two pounds of pasta. I typically only cook one pound of pasta at a time, so when I make this sauce I usually freeze half for another meal. (I love meals that serve double duty like that!)
Pro Tip: You can thin out this sauce with a bit of water to make a really tasty soup too!
Can You Use Canned Lentils Instead of Dry?
If a recipe calls for brown lentils, you can often substitute canned lentils for dry lentils.
However, this recipe uses red lentils, and I’ve never seen them available canned. But don’t worry, dry red lentils are very easy to cook!
Are Lentils High in Protein?
According to the USDA, here is the nutrition information for 1/4 cup (35g) of red lentils:
- 8g protein
- 22g carbohydrates
- 5g fiber
More Red Lentil Recipes:
Did you make this recipe? Please rate it and leave a comment below because I love hearing from you! You can also tag @anediblemosaic on social media. To stay up-to-date FOLLOW ME on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Xoxo, Faith
Red Lentil Bolognese
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium-large onion diced
- 4 large cloves garlic crushed
- 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes with juices
- 1 cup dried red lentils rinsed
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste optional
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Fresh oregano leaves for garnish (optional)
- Add the oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly.
- Add the tomatoes, red lentils, vegetable stock, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, oregano, paprika, salt, and black pepper. Cover the saucepan and bring it up to a simmer; turn the heat down and simmer until the sauce is thickened, about 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, but stirring more frequently toward the end. (Also, remember that the sauce will thicken more as it cools, so don’t let it get too thick.)
- Remove from the heat and stir in the cream.
- Toss the sauce with pasta (garnished with a little fresh oregano if you want), or use it any way you’d use regular tomato sauce.
- This recipe yields about 5 cups of sauce, or about enough sauce to generously coat 2 pounds of pasta. Each serving is about 6 tablespoons.
- To Keep This Vegan: Use vegan Worcestershire sauce and coconut milk instead of heavy cream.
- To Reheat: This sauce thickens upon standing, so you may need to add a splash of water when you reheat it. This sauce can be reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave.
This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on March 27, 2015. I updated it with more information on March 22, 2020.
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links to products I believe in, which means that even though it doesn’t cost you anything extra, I will receive a small amount of money from the sale of these items. Thank you for helping to support An Edible Mosaic!
Lee Clayton Roper says
I made this sauce for dinner last night and everyone loved it. I served it over spiralized zucchini sauteed in olive oil. Definitely making this again – so quick and easy to prepare and so full of flavor. A winner!
I’ve done black or green lentil bolognese before, but never red! I bet they add an aspect of creaminess to the sauce that I would love.
Lori R. says
This is going on our menu this week. It sounds so good and I’ve been looking for some ideas to use up some red lentils I have in the pantry!
Nicola - Pink Recipe Box says
I love meatless meals – especially ones with lentils. This sounds like something even my carnivore of a boyfriend would love. Can’t wait to try!
Becky Winkler (A Calculated Whisk) says
What a cool idea!
Marissa | Pinch and Swirl says
Yay! I love having a vegetarian version of Bolognese and this one looks genius!
A fantastic idea! I’ll have to try this combo soon…