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Are you looking for a recipe to make an absolutely delicious lentil bolognese? Then you're in the right place! This lentil bolognese is super simple to make, requires only 9 ingredients, and is healthy and delicious!
This recipe is inspired by the traditional method of making bolognese. In fact, the only ingredient that sets it apart from the traditional version are the red lentils used to replace the ground meat.
If you're skeptical because of the lentils, don't be. the lentils absorb the flavors of the sauce and achieve a consistency very similar to that of meat. I've made this recipe for a lot of non-vegans and everyone has always loved it!
Before you jump into the kitchen to prepare this recipe I recommend you read this blog-post carefully. The recipe is simple but there are a few details to keep in mind when making it.
Lentil bolognese ingredients
You only need a handful of ingredients to make this recipe. Many of which I'm sure you'll already have in your kitchen. But let's see together exactly what ingredients you'll need:
- red lentils
- canned peeled tomatoes
- red or white wine
- tomato paste
- olive oil
- soy milk (optional)
How to substitute ingredients
Because I already know that many of you will ask me how to substitute ingredients, below I will explain which ones can be substituted and which ones cannot.
Obviously I recommend that you follow the recipe to the letter for best results.
Red lentils are used to replace ground meat in plant-based bolognese for two reasons.
First, they have the ability to absorb the flavors of the sauce making the bolognese extra delicious.
Secondly this type of lentils, having grains that are not too large, cooks faster than others making sure the bolognese does not have to cook excessively long.
Having said this red lentils can be substituted with any other type of lentil or with ground soy or mushrooms. Be aware, if you substitute lentils you will have to add more or less water and adapt the cooking time.
Chopped carrot, celery & onion
The basic of a soffritto changes from person to person but to make a traditional bolognese, carrot, celery and onion are always used.
Carrot helps the texture of the bolognese and gives a touch of sweetness; celery gives a touch of freshness and onion adds some delightful aromas.
If you don't have one of the three you can simply leave it off. In the case of the onion you can also use onion powder if you don't have a fresh one at home.
Canned peeled tomatoes (it. pelati)
Peeled tomatoes are the main staple of our bolognese. For this reason, I highly recommend using organic, high quality, non-grinded peeled tomatoes.
If you can't find peeled tomatoes in your local supermarket, I recommend using non-spiced tomato pulp.
Red or wine wine?
To make the bolognese even more delicious, we add a dash of wine before adding the peeled tomatoes.
Normally red wine is used because it has a more aromatic taste and because it gives a more intense color to the sauce. But you can also use white wine perfectly.
The tomato paste is added to the soffritto just before pouring in the peeled tomatoes and is used to add flavor and give a more vibrant color to the lentil bolognese.
In case you do not have it at home or cannot find it, you can also leave it away. Its use is recommended but optional.
How to make vegan bolognese
Now that we know exactly what ingredients are used (and how they can be substituted) to make a vegan bolognese, we can move on to the recipe.
Below I'll explain step by step how to make a mouthwatering lentil bolognese!
Step 1: brown the soffritto
To make a good bolognese full of flavor we need to make a great soffritto.
To do this we only need to saute onion, carrot and celery until they start to caramelize. Once browned and fragrant we can add the tomato paste. We stir well and cook everything for another two minutes before moving on to the next step.
Step 2: Stir in lentils & red wine
Once the soffritto is ready we can add the lentils, mix well and sauté for 2 minutes over high heat.
Then we pour in the wine and simmer until the wine has evaporated completely. Once it has evaporated we can move on to the next step.
Step 3: Pour in the canned tomatoes
When the wine has completely evaporated we add the peeled tomatoes and using spatula we break them up in order to incorporate them into the sauce.
Once incorporated, we add a dash of water, mix well and let our bolognese simmer for about an hour over low heat with the lid half closed, stirring occasionally.
Step 4: Simmer gently until thick
The bolognese is ready when the lentils are tender and the sauce is nice and thick and not too runny.
In the photo below you can see what the bolognese should look like once it's ready.
How to store bolognese sauce
You can either store the bolognese in the fridge or in the freezer, depending on how long you want to store it for.
- Fridge: place the bolognese in an air-tight container and store in the fridge up to 3-4 days.
- Freezer: place in an air-tight container and store in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. Allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge before serving.
To reheat, place the bolognese in a saucepan and cook for a couple of minutes until warm.
What to serve with bolognese
Bolognese is usually served with pappardelle or tagliatelle. That being said you can serve it with any type of pasta you like.
If you want to make pappardelle with bolognese sauce (see image below) click here to check out the recipe.
What to serve with bolognese instead of pasta
If you don't want to serve bolognese with pasta, I recommend serving it as a topping for a polenta, as a filling for fajitas, or simply with some baked vegetables.
More recipes you may like:
- Extra Tender Vegan Roast Beef
- Easy & Delicious Vegan Shredded Chicken
- The Ultimate Vegan Wellington
- Vegan Chickpea Cutlets
If you try this recipe….
Please let me know! Leave a comment, rate the recipe and don't forget to tag a photo with #carlocao or #vegaliciously on Instagram or Tiktok.
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