RecipeLentil and Mushroom Bolognese

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
  • Calories: 190
  • Protein: 10 g
  • Total Fat: 3.5 g
    • Unsaturated Fat: 3.5 g
    • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 31 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 7 g
  • Total Sugar: 9 g
    • Natural Sugar: 9 g
    • Added Sugar: 0 g
  • Sodium: 480 mg

The mushrooms and lentils in this meatless sauce create a full-bodied feel, and the combo 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 saucy pasta isn’t just for vegans. I’m confident carnivores will crave it, too. 

If you prepare the sauce ahead of time, you’ll need to add ¼ to ½ cup more broth when reheating.

• You can use any reduced-sodium broth you’d like, vegetable, mushroom, even chicken broth. Water will work, too.  If you use a standard saltier broth (regular versus reduced-sodium), cut back on the kosher salt. You can always add more later, at the end, when you taste the finished Bolognese.

Red wine adds a nice flavor depth—you can use any open bottle, and feel free to freeze leftover wine in ice cube trays for future recipes. Then just defrost cubes as needed. If you don’t have any wine on hand, you can simply use an extra ¼ cup broth. 

  • Prep time
  • Total Time
This recipe 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 (or dried thyme)
  • • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • • 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 reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • • 1 cup dry brown or green lentils
  • • 1 to 2 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce, optional
  • • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley and/or basil, minced

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. If at any point the veggies become too dry or start to stick, drizzle on a bit more olive oil or mist with oil spray.

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.

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. 

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. 

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 whole-grain pasta, zoodles, or spaghetti squash.

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.)

Nutrition provided for 1 cup sauce. 

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