This Vegan Bolognese is a hearty and flavorful dish that’s easy to toss together. Made with your run of the mill pantry items, this savory sauce is composed of simple ingredients. A dinner dish bursting with flavor and chock-full of vegetables, for one very satisfying meal.
Spaghetti bolognese is a pretty common dish. However, when it comes to knowing how to pronounce bolognese, that can be hit or miss for many people. There’s no shame in that fact though. It’s an odd word, especially for those who aren’t Italian speakers. Bolognese is an Italian word, so the way it’s spelled isn’t how it’s actually pronounced. This is where the confusion comes in.
The word “bolognese” is pretty easy to pronounce once you’ve heard it. The correct pronunciation that’s widely accepted is “bow-luh-naze.” To pronounce it in the original Italian isn’t as easy, and definitely isn’t as easy to explain through text. In Italian, it’s more like “bow-low-nyay-zuh.” Like I said, awkward to try and explain through text, but that should give you a really good idea of how it sounds.
Bolognese is known worldwide and loved by adults and children alike. The Italians really have a knack for delicious dishes, whether it’s pasta, lasagna, gnocchi or pizza, I’ve always been a huge fan of Italian dishes. I loved to eat spaghetti bolognese as a child, but in the vegetarian version because I stopped eating meat when I was 6 years old.
What Is Bolognese?
If you’re familiar with spaghetti sauce, bolognese sauce is very similar, but it’s usually meat-based. It commonly contains beef, onions, tomatoes, and spices. Of course, my version is a vegetarian bolognese, so it doesn’t contain any meat. However, it doesn’t lack in the flavor department because of it.
Bolognese is an Italian dish and is said to have come from the city of Bologna in Italy. One of its best qualities is that it’s made with simple ingredients that can often be found in your pantry or fridge. On top of that, all the ingredients in this lentil bolognese are healthy and full of vital nutrients. Its main ingredients are:
- Crushed Tomatoes
As always, the full list of ingredients, instructions, and nutrition facts is in the printable recipe card below.
How To Make Vegan Bolognese?
STEP 1: Sauté the onion, celery, carrots, and mushrooms in heated oil for about 3-4 minutes. Add all the spices + garlic and sauté a bit longer around 1 minute.
STEP 2: Add to the pot the wine, tomatoes, lentils, broth, and bay leaf. Stir well.
STEP 3: Let the mixture come to a boil before reducing the heat and letting it simmer until the lentils are soft. It takes around 20 minutes, give or take depending on the lentils.
STEP 4: Make the pasta of your choosing per the packaged instructions.
STEP 5: Mix the cornstarch and plant-based milk together in a small bowl. Add it to the mixture, along with the vinegar and soy sauce.
STEP 6: Adjust the seasonings as you see fit and serve the lentil bolognese over the pasta.
Helpful Tips And Variations
- Soak the lentils – If you’re using green or brown lentils, it’s best if you soak them in warm water for about 15 minutes before cooking them. Not only do they cook quicker this way, but they’re easier for your body to digest as well.
- Use your favorite pasta – You don’t have to use spaghetti for this vegan bolognese. Feel free to use any pasta of choice, regular, gluten-free, or even grain-free pasta. Some other pasta types would be fettuccine, penne, fusilli or rigatoni that are suitable for this vegetarian bolognese. Besides pasta, you can also use gnocchi to make a delicious gnocchi bolognese (so yummy!).
- Lentil alternative – If you don’t want to use lentils, you can make a meat-free bolognese with textured soy protein which is also rich in plant-based protein. Simply soak 1 cup of soy curls in warm water until softened and then add them to the pan in place of the lentils.
- Add more veggies – If you aren’t a big fan of the vegetables included in this bolognese sauce, or you just simply want to add more, you definitely can. Some great suggestions would be eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, etc.
- Storage – The best way to store this lentil bolognese is in the fridge, in an airtight container. It will last for around 4 days this way. For freezing, place the bolognese sauce in a freezer bag, leaving a small space for the ingredients to freeze and expand, then sealing fully once frozen. Do not store bolognese outside the fridge or freezer.
- Make it less spicy – If you prefer less spice in your spaghetti bolognese, simply nix adding in the crushed red peppers. This should reduce the spice considerably.
Perfect For Meal Prep
This tasty vegetarian bolognese is simply perfect for meal prep as you can store the sauce in individual containers in the refrigerator. Add fresh cherry tomatoes or spiralized zucchini for a low-carb version.
If you decide to give this comforting vegan bolognese a try, please leave a comment and rating below and don’t forget to tag me in your Instagram or Facebook post with @elavegan and #elavegan – I love seeing your creations!
If you love easy vegan pasta recipes, make sure to check them out below:
- Vegan Lasagna Soup
- Spinach & “Ricotta” Cannelloni (Vegan Manicotti)
- Pumpkin Pasta Bake
- Creamy Pasta Soup
- Vegan Pasta Bake
- Easy Vegan Pasta Salad
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 1 medium (52 g) stalk celery finely diced (1/2 cup)
- 10 oz fresh (280 g) mushrooms finely diced (or 1 oz dried)
- 2 medium (200 g) carrots finely grated
- 4 cloves garlic finely minced or crushed
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning or use 1 tsp each of dried oregano and basil
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp coconut sugar or sweetener of choice
- Pinch of red pepper flakes or to taste
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) red wine or use more vegetable broth
- 3 cups (750 g) crushed tomatoes or marinara sauce or tomato sauce
- 2 cups (480 ml) vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup (200 g) dry lentils I used brown, soaked
- 1 tbsp soy sauce gluten-free if needed or tamari
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) plant-based milk
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 8 oz (225 g) spaghetti gluten-free if needed or pasta of choice
- Vegan parmesan or nutritonal yeast to garnish (optional)
- I recommend soaking the lentils in lukewarm water if you are using green or brown lentils. This step is optional, however, the lentils cook faster and are furthermore better digested when soaked. You can skip this step if using red lentils.
- Heat oil in a pan or pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, mushrooms, and carrots. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Stir in garlic, sweetener, and all spices. Sauté for a further one minute, stirring frequently.
- Add red wine (or vegetable broth), crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, the bay leaf, and the drained lentils. Stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender (depending on the variety it can take shorter or longer).
- Meanwhile, cook your favorite pasta (e.g. spaghetti) as per package instructions.
- Add soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Mix the plant-based milk and cornstarch in a small bowl and add the mixture to the pan.
- Taste and adjust seasonings. Add more salt/pepper/spices to taste. Also, add more vegetable broth if needed.
- Serve the lentil bolognese in bowls over pasta and sprinkle vegan Parmesan on top (optional). Enjoy! Store bolognese sauce leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Use your favorite pasta - Feel free to use any pasta of choice, regular, gluten-free, or even grain-free pasta. Besides pasta, you can also use gnocchi. Check out my gluten-free vegan gnocchi recipe.
- Lentil alternative - You can use textured soy protein instead of lentils. Simply soak 1 to 1 1/2 cups of soy curls in warm water for a few minutes and then add them to the pan in place of the lentils.
- Add more veggies - You can add more vegetables of choice. Some great suggestions would be eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, etc.
- Check out more helpful tips and the step-by-step photos in the blog post above.
- Recipe serves 4. Nutrition facts are for one serving (including pasta).
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically
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Thank you for this delicious recipe.! It’s now a favorite lentil recipe of mine.
You are very welcome, so glad you like the recipe. 🙂
This was so delicious.! I didn’t have to use cornstarch. I put all the veggies in my food processer… Thank you so much for another tasty recipe! I used reduced fat coconut milk.
Hi Mindy, I am so glad it turned out yummy! 🙂
One of my favorite recipes of all time! In rotation every week 🙂
So happy to hear! 🙂
Will cook this during the week. The comments make me excited to try.
I would love a Print Recipe function.
Please disregard my wish for a Print function on the recipe. It hadn’t loaded properly.. Now I can see it, doh. Apologies.
Oh, I saw your answer only now, haha. Glad you found it. 🙂
Hi Anna, no worries, there is a green button in the recipe card, which says “print recipe”, just click on it. 🙂
How long do you soak the brown lentils in lukewarm water for?
Sorry, saw that you soak them for 15 minutes.
I stopped eating meat a year ago and this recipe was a great vegan version!
I am glad it was delicious, Marika. 🙂
Will be making this to serve over pierogi’s for my vegetarian family members for Christmas. Does it freeze well or better not to?
Yes, the sauce freezes very well. 🙂
Just finished making this.
Everything I’ve made from you always comes out great.
Think I may need to order your cookbook ❤️
Aww, thank you, Andrea! I am so glad you like my recipes!! 🙂
really delicious 🙂
Glad you like it! 🙂
Absolutely delicious. I can’t wait to eat this again ❤️
Happy you liked it, Ana. 🙂