Meatless Lentil “Bolognese”

Meatless Lentil “Bolognese”

Do you participate in Meatless Mondays? I am very much a carnivore, but I do like to challenge myself and forgo meat at some meals and experiment with plant based protein sources. Pasta is an easy meal to make meatless (because really if you gave me straight noodles with butter and cheese, I would not complain). But, making sure there is some protein and that the meal fills you up takes a little more than just butter and parmesan.

Lentils are a great way to do this. I love them in this tomato sauce because they add some texture AND they cook right in the sauce. No need to boil separately. The sauce simmer low and slow to allow the lentils to cook and makes the sauce nice and thick. I served mine with sweet potato noodles, but it would be amazing with zucchini noodles or, heck, straight up white pasta because we don’t food shame here.


One-Pot Lentil Bolognese. Thick, filling pasta sauce made meatless with the addition of lentils that cook right in the sauce.

Meatless Lentil Bolognese

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


A great meatless alternative when you want a filling bowl of pasta. The lentils cook right in the pot for an easy sauce to serve with your favorite noodle.



  • 1 medium yellow onion (peeled and cut into chunks)
  • 3 medium carrots (peeled and cut into chunks)
  • 3 stalks of celery (rinsed and cut into chunks)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic (crushed with a garlic press)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red hot pepper flakes
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dry lentils (rinsed)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • noodles or pasta of your choice to serve


  1. In a food processor, pulse the onion, carrot, and celery until finely minced. Alternatively you can use a grater or mince finely with a knife.
  2. In a dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the minced carrot, celery, and onion. Sauté for 3-4 minutes until soft. Push the veggies to the side and add 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. To the oil add the crushed garlic and pepper flakes. Sauté in the oil for about a minute until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the tomato paste and stir everything together.
  3. Add the water and use your spoon to deglaze and bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add in the crushed tomatoes, dried herbs, and dry lentils. Stir everything together. Bring the mixture to a simmer on low-medium heat and cover. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the lentils are cooked. Every 5 minutes or so, stir the sauce and add more water if the sauce appears to be too thick for the lentils to absorb any moisture.
  4. When the lentils are cooked the sauce should be nice and thick. If the sauce needs to thicken more, uncover and let simmer for a few minutes. Serve with the pasta of your choice.


If you don’t have a garlic press, you can process the cloves in the food processor separately from the veggies. Or mince finely with a knife.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Cuisine: Italian

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