Lately I’ve been eating a lot more vegetarian. I don’t know if it’s a summer thing or I’m just more open to it, but veggie-based meals have been on my mind.
Since my boys love pasta and red sauce and meat sauce, I thought it would be a fun to test out a meat-free bolognese sauce bulked up with lentils.
If you want a meaty bolognese, try this 10 minute recipe! I love using chickpea pasta or lentils, zoodles are also a great option, but use whatever pasta is your fave!
So, let’s jump into the recipe and make a tasty Vegan Lentil Bolognese! It’s hearty and filling, and I absolute love the flavor, so I can’t wait for you guys to try it!
What is a Bolognese?
Bolognese sauce, also known as ragù alla Bolognese or simply ragù, is a meat-based sauce that originated in Bologna, Italy. It is typically made with ground beef or a mixture of ground beef and pork, onion, celery, carrot, and tomato, and is simmered for several hours to develop a rich, complex flavor. It is traditionally served with pasta, such as spaghetti, but can also be used as a filling for lasagna or as a base for other dishes.
How are we making this vegan?
Instead of meat, we’re using lentils! Lentils are a great substitute for meat in a vegan sauce because they have a similar texture and can absorb flavors well. They are also a good source of protein and other nutrients, making them a nutritious addition to the sauce.
Are Lentils Healthy?
Lentils are a highly nutritious and healthy food that offer several health benefits. Some of the key benefits of lentils include:
- High in Protein: Lentils are an excellent plant-based source of protein, providing about 18 grams of protein per cooked cup. They are also a good source of essential amino acids, making them a valuable addition to a vegan or vegetarian diet.
- Rich in Fiber: Lentils are also high in dietary fiber, which can help to keep the digestive system healthy and promote feelings of fullness, which can aid weight loss.
- Low in Fat and Cholesterol-Free: Lentils are low in fat and cholesterol-free, making them a heart-healthy food choice.
- Rich in Nutrients: Lentils are a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, including folate, iron, phosphorus, and potassium.
- Help Control Blood Sugar: Lentils are also a low glycemic index food and can help to regulate blood sugar levels. They contain both soluble and insoluble fibers which slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and sugar, this can help prevent blood sugar spikes.
- Antioxidant rich: Lentils are also high in antioxidants, which can help to protect the body against the damage caused by free radicals, which can help to reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases.
- Promote healthy digestion: Lentils are known to be a great prebiotic food which promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and can promote healthy digestion.
It is important to note that lentils should be cooked before consumed, they are also easy to digest, but they contain a lectin that can cause digestive distress in some people if not cooked properly.
Ingredients and substitutions for vegan bolognese
- Olive oil – if you want to use coconut oil or avocado oil, that works! Use whatever you have on hand!
- Onion – Onions will add depth and complexity of flavor to this bolognese. They create a flavorful foundation.
- Seasonings – Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes!
- Cooked lentils – I love buying cooked lentils to make this recipe move that much quicker. But, if you want to make your own lentils you definitely can!
- Crushed tomatoes
- Tomato sauce
How to make vegan bolognese:
Add the olive oil to a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once the olive oil is hot, add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until translucent and slightly caramelized.
Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, if using. Cook for 2 additional minutes before adding the lentils, crushed tomatoes, and tomato sauce.
Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for at least 20 minutes. Serve with pasta or veggie noodles of choice.
More savory vegan recipes to try:
- Scallion Pancakes (gluten free + vegan)
- Zucchini Chickpea Burgers
- “Cheesy” Queso
- Cashew Ranch Dip
- Vegan Scrambled Eggs
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 cups cooked lentils
- 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
- 28 oz. tomato sauce
- Add the olive oil to a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.
- Once the olive oil is hot, add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until translucent and slightly caramelized.
- Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, if using. Cook for 2 additional minutes before adding the lentils, crushed tomatoes, and tomato sauce.
- Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for at least 20 minutes.
- Serve with pasta or veggie noodles of choice.
- BIG thank you to my friend Allie from Miss Allie’s Kitchen for creating this delicious recipe and taking these gorgeous images for us!! I love her work and couldn’t be more excited she’s creating some tasty dishes to share here too!
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 522
- Sugar: 23g
- Sodium: 2011mg
- Fat: 6g
- Saturated Fat: 0.9g
- Unsaturated Fat: 0g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 88.1g
- Fiber: 39.3g
- Protein: 32.6g
- Cholesterol: 2mg