Lentil Bolognese

Lentil Bolognese Recipe

Lentil bolognese? Sounds gross, truly. As an Italian girl, I was on the fence about this one but we are trying to eat less meat in our home and I was determined to make this work.

I love a good bolognese (find my turkey version here if you’re more of a carnivore) and wanted to find a great vegetarian option for a delicious weeknight dinner. Last week I found a lentil bolognese recipe online for my meal plan but it needed a little tweaking (IMO) so I added a few ingredients and swapped a few things around to make a hearty, filling, and delicious lentil bolognese.

It turned out so great! I recommend not skipping the wine or vinegar steps, they make a world of difference. As does the pinch of nutmeg, an important ingredient in traditional bolognese.

Lentil Bolognese Recipe

Serves 4


  • 3 tbsp butter (or olive oil for a dairy-free version)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1-2 large carrots, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/4 cups, dry white wine
  • 1 tube (5oz) tube or can (6oz) of tomato paste
  • 2 cups, chicken broth (or veggie broth if you want to make it vegan)
  • 1 cup red lentils, soaked
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (or pecans), crushed finely
  • 1 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 box, cooked pasta of choice (I used Banza chickpea pasta for a high-protein gluten-free version)
  • Italian parsley, chopped
  • Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese for topping (optional)


  1. Soak lentils in cold water for at least 30 minutes
  2. I prep the other ingredients while they’re soaking
  3. Heat butter (or olive oil) in a large pot
  4. Add onions and a pinch of salt, cook onions for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  5. Add a few spoonfuls of water to deglaze the pan, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes until they’re golden brown
  6. Add the carrot and celery and cook for about 2 more minutes
  7. Add garlic, thyme, oregano, 2 tsp salt, black pepper (to taste), and nutmeg, stir and cook for another minute or so
  8. Add tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until it’s dark red
  9. Add wine and cook down for another 2-3 minutes
  10. Stir in soaked lentils and nuts and heat to a boil, then simmer on low for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally
  11. Add crushed tomatoes and broth and simmer on low for another 15-20 minutes until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally
  12. Add salt and pepper to taste and finish off with a dash of vinegar
  13. Toss with cooked pasta and another tablespoon of butter, and garnish with parsley and grated cheese
  14. Enjoy!

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  1. Katherine said:

    Looks delicious! Quick question, do you removed the water that the lentils were soaking in before adding them?

    2.10.21 · Reply
    • Julia said:


      2.10.21 · Reply
  2. Margaret Daley said:

    Can you use green lentil

    2.10.21 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      For sure! I just like the look of the red better 🙂

      2.10.21 · Reply
  3. Jenn Lake said:

    Looks SO delicious!

    2.11.21 · Reply
  4. Alexandra said:

    When do you add the broth? Looks delicious! I can’t wait to try!

    2.24.21 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Oops sorry about that! Just updated the post but you add it with the tomatoes.

      2.24.21 · Reply