What do you want from a bolognese recipe? It’s still very much a staple meal at home, so I was desperate (as part of Veganuary) to come up with my own plant-based version that is just as rich and comforting as the meaty version. I think I’ve nailed it.
My classic Bolognese ragu is slow cooked with beef and smoked bacon. But I asked myself, meat-aside, what do I really want from a good Bolognese sauce? It’s got to be ✅ rich, ✅ tomato-y, ✅ herby, ✅ comforting and ✅ filling. So I made that my aim for this vegan-friendly version. It even features a slosh of vegan red vino for good measure (how Keith Floyd of me!) which helps add to the depth and richness, mmm 😋 scroll to the bottom of the post for details on the plonk.
Before we get to the recipe, can I just put a disclaimer out there, to all the mushroom-haters? I know you guys don’t like mushrooms, it’s mainly the texture, right? Well this recipe contains a whole punnet of them. But the trick is, to chop them super fine.
There’s a part in the recipe that “let’s them wilt” and I have said this specifically because it’s important to let the mushrooms cook out for a few minutes, so they just sort of sink into the sauce, instead of being a noticeable part of the dish as a whole.
This recipe is also packed with veg to give it substance, which is why this easily serves 6 hearty portions.
It takes 20 mins prep, 1 hour cooking time. If you want it to taste *even better* and you have the time, cook it a day ahead and let it sit in the pan overnight before reheating and serving! Enjoy x
Rich Lentil Bolognese (vegan-friendly)
What you need
- 3 tablespoons rapeseed or olive oil
- 2 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 2 carrots, finely diced
- 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
- 250 g (1 punnet) chestnut mushrooms, very finely diced
- 1 teaspoon each of sea salt and sugar
- 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 tablespoons tomato puree
- 200 g (1 cup) red lentils
- 500 ml organic veg stock (I love Kallo)
- 1 400 g tin plum tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon Marmite
- a small glass vegan-friendly red wine (check out Aldi’s selection)
- 1 tablespoon each of dried basil and oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 small sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
To serve; pasta of your choice ( love wholewheat spaghetti), top with fresh basil leaves, black pepper and alongside a glass of red and some vegan friendly garlic bread!
What to do
- Heat the oil in a large lidded cooking pot over low-medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the red pepper, carrots sea salt, and sugar. Saute over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15-20 minutes, until caramelized.
- Meanwhile, finely chop the mushrooms and celery, then add to the pot once the other veggies have been in for the 20 mins. Stir well and continue to cook, until the mushrooms have wilted (don’t skip this bit!). Add the garlic, tomato paste and stir well, then add the lentils.
- Next, add the stock, tinned tomatoes and then get seasoning; add the Marmite, dried oregano and basil, sun dried tomatoes, lots of black pepper and the bay leaves. Stir well, and add a good slosh of the vegan red wine. Reduce to a simmer, cook with the lid on for 30 minutes. Check, then cook for a final 30 minutes with the lid off.
- Serve with fresh basil, a glass of vegan friendly red wine and garlic bread.
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