Red Lentil Bolognese [One-Pot] - Watch Learn Eat (2023)

This red lentil Bolognese is a protein-packed, fiber-filled sauce that's also vegan, gluten-free, nut-free and oil-free. Serve this one-pot sauce over your favorite pasta or veggie noodles for a tasty and hearty vegetarian meal.

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 25 minutes

Total Time 45 minutes

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Red Lentil Bolognese [One-Pot] - Watch Learn Eat (1)

This red lentil Bolognese checks all the boxes...

Protein. Check.

Fiber. Check.

Veggies. Check.

Low-Fat. Check.

Flavorful. Check.

Red Lentil Bolognese [One-Pot] - Watch Learn Eat (2)

Whether you're vegetarian, vegan or just looking looking for a meatless option, this sauce is perfect for your pasta night!

And if you love sauces, you'll also have to check out this pumpkin tomato sauce , this dairy-free vodka sauce, and this vegan Béchamel.

Jump to:
  • What is Bolognese sauce?
  • Ingredients you'll need for vegan Bolognese
  • How to make red lentil Bolognese
  • Ideas for serving lentil Bolognese
  • Substitutions
  • Storing and reheating
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Red Lentil Bolognese
Red Lentil Bolognese [One-Pot] - Watch Learn Eat (3)

What is Bolognese sauce?

Traditional Bolognese (also known as ragùalla Bolognese) is a meat-based sauce that originated in Bologna, Italy.

It is also made with tomatoes as well as aromatic vegetables such as carrots, onion and celery.

The traditional version also includes white wine, stock/broth and milk.

It is also traditionally cooked low and slow.

For this vegan version, not only did we ditch the meat but we also sped up the process so that the sauce could be ready in under an hour, making it perfect for weeknight dinners!

Red Lentil Bolognese [One-Pot] - Watch Learn Eat (4)

Ingredients you'll need for vegan Bolognese

Red Lentil Bolognese [One-Pot] - Watch Learn Eat (5)
  • Red Lentils - Low in fat but high in both fiber and protein, red lentils contain good amount of iron, folate and potassium as well as a slew of other vitamins and minerals. They also cook up quicker than green or brown lentils,
  • Vegan Pinot Grigio - Check out Barnivore for some great vegan wine options
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Tomato Paste
  • Canned Diced Tomatoes
  • Canned Tomato Sauce
  • Vegetable Broth (low sodium if desired)
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Salt
Red Lentil Bolognese [One-Pot] - Watch Learn Eat (6)

How to make red lentil Bolognese

Start by adding the celery, carrots, garlic and onion to a food processor.

Pulse until finely chopped but not pureed.

Red Lentil Bolognese [One-Pot] - Watch Learn Eat (7)
Red Lentil Bolognese [One-Pot] - Watch Learn Eat (8)

Add the veggie mixture, wine and salt to a 4-quart saucepan.

Cook over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the veggies have softened up and the wine has just about evaporated.

Red Lentil Bolognese [One-Pot] - Watch Learn Eat (9)
Red Lentil Bolognese [One-Pot] - Watch Learn Eat (10)

Next, stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in the diced tomatoes (along with their juice), broth, tomato sauce, and Italian seasoning.

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Red Lentil Bolognese [One-Pot] - Watch Learn Eat (12)

Bring to a boil.

Once boiling, add the lentils, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer.

Cook covered for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils reach desired tenderness.

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Red Lentil Bolognese [One-Pot] - Watch Learn Eat (14)

Before serving, season with salt to taste.

Red Lentil Bolognese [One-Pot] - Watch Learn Eat (15)

Ideas for serving lentil Bolognese

Bolognese is traditionally served with tagliatelle, but you can use any pasta of your choosing (gluten-free if needed).

Red Lentil Bolognese [One-Pot] - Watch Learn Eat (16)

It's also great with spiralized noodles, such as zucchini or sweet potato.

No matter what you serve it over, it's perfect topped off with some Parmesan cheese and/or fresh parsley.

If vegan or avoiding dairy, use store-bought Parmesan-style cheese or try our homemade vegan Parmesan.

You can also try using this red lentil Bolognese as the sauce layer in your favorite lasagna recipe.

Red Lentil Bolognese [One-Pot] - Watch Learn Eat (17)

Substitutions

  • Red Lentils - You can swap the red lentils for green or brown instead. Take note that this will increase the cooking time as they take longer than the red ones. I prefer the red lentils in this recipe for their sweet flavor and creamier consistency; however, if you prefer a more earthy and robust flavor, you may want to use green or brown instead. They will also have a firmer texture in the sauce.
  • Dry Lentils - If you prefer, you can use a 15-ounce can of cooked lentils. Just drain and rinse and add them after the sauce has been simmering for about 15 minutes after bringing to a boil.
  • Onion - You can use shallot in place of the onion if preferred.
  • Italian Seasoning - If you don't have any on hand, try a blend of parsley, basil and oregano.
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Storing and reheating

Leftover sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

It can also be frozen for up to 6 months.

Just be sure to store it in an airtight container and fully thaw it in the refrigerator before reheating.

The sauce is best reheated on the stovetop in a covered pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed throughout.

Red Lentil Bolognese [One-Pot] - Watch Learn Eat (19)

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to soak red lentils?

The lentils do not have to be soaked. However, some people say that soaking helps aid with digestion. Therefore, if you prefer, you can soak them if you desire for about 2-3 hours before you are going to make the sauce.

How long does it take to cook red lentils?

Red lentils typically take about 10 minutes to cook over a simmer. But in this recipe, we're cooking them a bit longer so that the flavors in the sauce have more time to infuse.

Red Lentil Bolognese [One-Pot] - Watch Learn Eat (20)

Red Lentil Bolognese [One-Pot] - Watch Learn Eat (21)

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5 from 4 votes

Red Lentil Bolognese

This red lentil Bolognese is a protein-packed, fiber-filled sauce that's also vegan, gluten-free, nut-free and oil-free. Serve this one-pot sauce over your favorite pasta or veggie noodles for a tasty and hearty vegetarian meal.

Course Main Course, Sauce

Cuisine American, Gluten-Free, Italian, Vegan

Keyword Bolognese, dairy-free, gluten free, nut free, oil free, vegan, vegetarian

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 25 minutes

Total Time 45 minutes

Servings 6

Calories 159kcal

Author Sherri Hall

Ingredients

  • 2 medium ribs of celery, cut into large pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup vegan Pinot Grigio
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
  • 6 oz can of tomato paste (use no salt added if preferred)
  • 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice (use no salt added if preferred)
  • 15 oz can of tomato sauce (be sure to use an oil-free brand to keep this recipe oil free; use low sodium or no salt added if preferred)
  • 2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (be sure to use an oil-free brand of broth to keep this recipe oil-free, use low sodium if preferred)
  • ¾ cup dry red lentils, rinsed and picked over

Instructions

  • Add the celery, carrots, garlic and onion to a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped but not pureed.

  • Add the veggie mixture, wine and salt to a 4-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the veggies have softened up and the wine has just about evaporated.

  • Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes until it gets dark in color, stirring frequently.

  • Stir in the diced tomatoes (with juice), broth, tomato sauce, and Italian seasoning.

  • Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the lentils, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer.

  • Cook covered for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils reach desired tenderness, stirring occasionally.

  • Before serving, season with additional salt to taste.

(Please refer to the post above for instructional photographs and other helpful information for this recipe)

Suggested Equipment/Tools

Notes

See the "Substitutions" heading in post above for using a different type of lentil.

Leftover sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It can also be frozen for up to 6 months, but should be fully thawed in the refrigerator before reheating on the stovetop in a covered pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. Accuracy is not guaranteed. Information shown should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Nutrition calculation is for the sauce alone. It does not include pasta.

Nutrition

Calories: 159kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Fiber: 11g

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This post originally appeared on Watch Learn Eat on December 21, 2019. It has been republished to reflect recipe, photo and content revisions.

©Watch Learn Eat. All content and images are copyright protected. Recipes and images are not to be used or republished without prior permission. If you adapt this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, and link back to this post for the original recipe.

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