Best Red Lentil Vegan Bolognese with Vegetables (2023)

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Rich and hearty, this delicious red lentil vegan bolognese tastes like the original, no joke. Made with healthy vegetables such as mushrooms, carrots, and celery, and finished with flavorsome bolognese herbs. The whole dish tastes almost exactly the same as an authentic bolognese yet it is healthy, vegan, and loved by babies, kids, and adults. Even my husband, who adores a meaty bolognese, now prefers this as it makes him feel full but light.

Best Red Lentil Vegan Bolognese with Vegetables (1)

Why we love this recipe:

1. Filled with fiber and phytonutrients: numerous different types of veggies, as well as legumes such as red lentils, provide a huge amount of fiber in this meal as well as lots of phytonutrients that have a beneficial effect on the whole body. A healthy lentil bolognese.

2. Bolognese with vegetables: a variety of nutrient and fiber-rich vegetables such as onion, garlic, tomatoes, celery, carrot, mushrooms, and delicious herbs.

3. Cook once for the whole family: perfect bolognese for baby 6 months old plus baby-led weaning, toddlers, as well as for kids and adults. Great for vegetarians, dairy-free, and anyone else who loves great food.

4. Loved by non-vegans and non-vegetarians: our family, actual lovers of authentic bolognese prefer this bolognese now as it makes them feel lighter and healthier afterward.

5. Batch cook and freeze: freezable for up to 3 months. We make a huge 12-portion batch and then it becomes a perfect minimal effort weekday meal.

Jump to:
  • Why we love this recipe:
  • Nutrition And Ingredients
  • Step-by-step instructions
  • Tips
  • How to serve bolognese baby-led weaning?
  • How to serve to 9 months old + baby?
  • How to serve bolognese to toddlers and picky eaters?
  • FAQ
  • More recipes for the whole family
  • Recipe

Nutrition And Ingredients

Best Red Lentil Vegan Bolognese with Vegetables (2)

1. First vegetable mixture: we use a mixture of onion, mushrooms, and walnuts, cut or processed into tiny pieces, and drop them on some olive oil. Mushrooms are a great source of selenium, copper, potassium, and phosphorus as well as B vitamins. We usually use button mushrooms but you can use any you have on hand. And walnuts have healthy fats, calories, and vitamin E

2. Second vegetable mixture: carrots and celery cut or processed into tiny pieces. Carrots are a great source of vitamins A and K as well as carotenoids which are great phytonutrients. They are also a decent source of fiber. Celery is an excellent source of vitamins C and K as well as a very good source of folate, potassium, and fiber

3. Tomato Sauce: use canned or homemade, smooth or with chunks - either works. Tomatoes are a great source of vitamins C and K as well as a specific nutrient called lycopene which is an antioxidant and can be beneficial to the cardiovascular system

4. Red Lentils: out of all the different kinds of lentils, I find red lentils to be the best ones to use in a vegan bolognese sauce like this since they soften the quickest and turn into a kind of puree. Lentils are a good source of protein and a very good source of fiber and folate

5. Spices and bolognese herbs: I used a mix of basil, and oregano, and then mixed Italian herbs (which include marjoram, thyme, sage, and rosemary). Basil and oregano I find important and if you have the Italian herbs then that is a great addition. I also use ½ tsp of chili flakes just to give the recipe a touch of spice

Step-by-step instructions

Best Red Lentil Vegan Bolognese with Vegetables (3)
Best Red Lentil Vegan Bolognese with Vegetables (4)
Best Red Lentil Vegan Bolognese with Vegetables (5)
Best Red Lentil Vegan Bolognese with Vegetables (6)
Best Red Lentil Vegan Bolognese with Vegetables (7)

1. Prepare the first veggie mixture. Peel and slice the onions into chunks. Wash and slice the mushrooms into large pieces. Put the onions and mushrooms into a blender, add the walnuts and blend until you have tiny bits. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Prepare the second veggie mixture. Wash and peel the carrots if necessary and cut them into chunks. Wash the celery sticks and cut them into chunks. Put the carrots and celery sticks into a blender and blend until you have tiny bits.

3. Heat the first vegetable mixture. Put the olive oil into a deep pan or a pot and on medium heat. Add the onion-mushroom-walnut mixture to the pot and simmer for about 5 minutes making sure to scrape the bottom so that it doesn't burn. If needed add about ¼ cup (50 ml) of water.

4. Add the second vegetable mixture. After about 5 minutes add the carrot-celery mixture and sauté.

5. Add the rest of the ingredients. Add the tomato sauce, red lentils, and water and bring to a boil. Add the spices (salt, pepper, optional sweetener, and spices) and lower the heat.

6. Cook. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes over low heat.

7. Finalize. After about 30 minutes check if the sauce has thickened and if needed remove the lid and simmer without it for another 5-10 minutes until the water has evaporated and until you have reached the desired thickness of your sauce.

8. Serve with wholewheat spaghetti, fusilli, or any kind of pasta you have on hand. For serving options based on age, see below.

Best Red Lentil Vegan Bolognese with Vegetables (8)

Tips

1. Blend your ingredients well. To get classic bolognese consistency sauce blend the vegetables really well so they are tiny. This is best done in a classic food processor.

2. Know your sauce thickness. If the vegan bolognese sauce is not thick enough for you after it has been cooking for about 30 minutes you can reduce it some more by removing the lid and continuing to simmer.

3. Cook over low-to-medium heat. Don't add the veggies while your pot is on high heat. The reason for this is that if you add the veggies to a really heated pan they will simply burn from the outside.

How to serve bolognese baby-led weaning?

  • Serve with wholewheat spaghetti and let baby grab by themselves. You will need a good full arms bib or have the baby just in a diaper as it will get messy!
  • Serve with cucumber spears that the baby can easily grab

How to serve to 9 months old + baby?

  • To practice pincer grasp use penne rather than spaghetti because it is easier to cut up into bite-size pieces and for the baby to pick up
  • Coat in a small amount of bolognese so it is still easy to pick up
  • Serve with some cucumber and cherry tomatoes cut up the size of a pinky fingernail
  • Mentally prepare yourself for the clean-up!

How to serve bolognese to toddlers and picky eaters?

  • Serve the same as for parents with some cut-up cucumber on the side and give them a fork that they can practice using
  • For picky eaters, serve the plain pasta on one side, the bolognese mixture on the other, and the cucumber separated

FAQ

Best Red Lentil Vegan Bolognese with Vegetables (9)

How to store red lentil bolognese?

Store the sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days and in the freezer for 3 months.

How to reheat vegan bolognese sauce?

From the fridge, place the bolognese into a saucepan and add a tiny bit of water, bring to boil, reduce and simmer for 5 min.
From frozen, defrost for 24 hours in the fridge and then reheat as above.

Can babies eat mushrooms?

Yes, babies can eat mushrooms from pretty much the day they start weaning but I would be careful in the choice of mushrooms for babies. Make sure that you know the origin of those mushrooms and preferably that they are from an organic source. They should also be really fresh with no visible signs of deterioration.

Can I use different nuts other than walnuts?

You can use any other nut of choice. Almonds, hazelnuts, even cashews are a really good choice. Just make sure they are raw and unsalted.

More recipes for the whole family

  • Mini Zucchini Pizza Bites
  • Mediterranean Sweet Potato Salad with Lemon Mint Vinaigrette
  • Mediterranean Summer Salad for Every Day
  • Easy Salmon Leek Quiche

If you've tried this recipe or any other recipe on the blog, then pleaserate it and leave us a comment below!

Recipe

Best Red Lentil Vegan Bolognese with Vegetables (14)

Best Red Lentil Vegan Bolognese

Rich and hearty, this delicious red lentil vegan bolognese tastes like the original, no joke. Made with healthy vegetables such as mushrooms, carrots, celery, and walnuts and finished with flavorsome bolognese herbs. The whole dish tastes almost exactly the same as an authentic bolognese yet it is healthy, vegan, and loved by babies, kids, and adults. Even my husband, who adores the original bolognese, now prefers this as it makes him feel full but light.

5 from 8 votes

Author: Dora

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 15 mins

Cook Time 30 mins

Servings 4

Fridge Life? 3 days

Freezable? 3 months

EQUIPMENT

  • Food Processor

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 10.5 oz mushrooms
  • 1.7 oz walnuts
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 4 medium celery stick
  • cup olive oil
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 3.5 oz red lentils
  • 1 tsp date syrup (or agave syrup or sugar) - optional

Bolognese herbs and spices

  • salt omit for babies under 1
  • pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp mixed Italian herbs optional (thyme, marjoram, sage, rosemary)
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes optional

Instructions

  • Prepare the first veggie mixture. Peel and slice the onions into larger chunks. Wash and slice the mushrooms into larger pieces. Put the onions and mushrooms into a blender, add the walnuts and blend until you have tiny bits. Transfer to a bowl.

  • Prepare the second veggie mixture. Wash and peel the carrots if necessary and cut into chunks. Wash the celery sticks and cut into chunks. Put the carrots and celery sticks into a blender and blend until you have tiny bits.

  • Heat the first vegetable mixture. Put the olive oil into a deeper pan or a pot and heat over medium heat. Add the onion-mushroom-walnut mixture to the pan/pot and simmer for about 5 minutes making sure to scrape the bottom so that it doesn't burn. If needed add about ¼ cup (50 ml) water.

  • Add the second vegetable mixture. After about 5 minutes add the carrot-celery mixture and sauté.

  • Add the rest of the ingredients. Add the tomato sauce, red lentils and water and bring to a boil. Add the spices (salt, pepper, optional sweetener and spices) and lower the heat.

  • Cook. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes over low heat.

  • Finalize. After about 30 minutes check if the sauce has thickened and if needed remove the lid and simmer without it for another 5 minutes until the water has evaporated and until you have reached the desired thickness of your sauce.

  • Serve with wholewheat spaghetti, fussili or any kind of pasta you have on hand. For serving options based on age, see below.

Notes

Notes:

  1. Sauce thickness: If the vegan bolognese sauce is not thick enough for you after it has been cooking for about 30 minutes you can reduce some more by removing the lid and continuing to simmer.
  2. Serving baby-led weaning: serve with wholewheat spaghetti and let baby grab by themselves. You will need a good full arms bib or have the baby just in a diaper as it will get messy. Serve with cucumber spears that the baby can easily grab.
  3. Serve to 9 months old + baby: to practice pincer grasp use penne rather than spaghetti because it is easier to cut up into bite-size pieces and for the baby to pick up. Coat in a small amount of bolognese so it is easy to pick up and serve with some cucumber and cherry tomatoes cut up the size of a pinky fingernail.
  4. Serve to toddlers and picky eaters: for toddlers serve the same as for parents with some cut-up cucumber on the side and give them a fork that they can practice using. For picky eaters, serve the plain pasta on one side, the bolognese mixture on the other, and the cucumber separate
  5. If making for adults and older kids: you can add more salt and more chili flakes if needed.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 250kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 13gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 633mgPotassium: 1139mgFiber: 13gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 10744IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 87mgIron: 4mg

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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