Lentil and Mushroom Bolognese
The mushrooms and lentils in this meatless sauce create a full-bodied feel, and the combination of additional veggies, spices and red wine provides that yummy umami flavor we’ve all come to love and expect in a traditional Bolognese sauce. Don’t worry, folks—this vegan recipe isn’t just for vegans or vegetarians. It’s so delicious that carnivores will crave it, too.
This recipe comes to us from Joy Bauer.
Want more meatless recipes like this? Subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly selection of plant-based recipes delivered right to your inbox!
For more recipes with lentils, click here.
Makes 8 cups
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup celery, finely diced (~3 stalks)
- 1 cup carrots finely diced (~2 to 3 small)
- 1½ cups leeks, finely diced (1 large or 2 small)
- 1 cup red bell pepper, finely diced (1 medium)
- 1 pound mushrooms, finely diced (~6 to 7 cups)
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
- Freshly ground pepper
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- ¼ cup red wine
- 1½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth, mushroom broth or water
- One can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup dry lentils (rinsed and picked through)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons tamari, optional
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley and/or basil, minced
1. In a heavy bottom pot, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the celery, carrots, leeks and bell pepper, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. The vegetables will begin to soften and caramelize.
2. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook over medium-high heat for another 8 minutes, stirring frequently until most of the moisture has evaporated. You will be left with a caramelized and flavorful vegetable pulp.
3. Add the garlic, thyme, oregano, and tomato paste. Cook for 1 minute, scraping the bottom of the pan and incorporating the paste. Add the salt, freshly ground pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.
4. Add the red wine and deglaze the bottom of the pot. Continue to cook over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes until the liquid evaporates. Add 1½ cups broth or water, crushed tomatoes, and dry lentils. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally until lentils are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
5. Remove lid and cook for another 5 minutes adding any additional liquid if needed to create tender lentils and a thick rich sauce. Season with additional salt, freshly ground pepper and the fresh minced parsley. Serve over zoodles, spaghetti squash or whole grain pasta.
This sauce will last up to 4 days in the fridge, or you can freeze for up 2 months in an airtight container (Note on freezing/reheating: The vegetables and lentils will lose a little texture, but it will still taste great).
If you prepare the sauce ahead of time, you’ll need to add ¼ to ½ cup more broth when reheating. If you use a saltier broth (reduced-sodium or regular broth), cut back on the kosher salt. You can always add more later, at the end, if you need it.