Vegan Bolognese with Mushrooms & Red Lentils

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Bowls of vegan lentil bolognese topped with fresh basil

The perfect pasta for your cozy weeknight in? It’s here! This 10-ingredient vegan bolognese is comforting, easy to make, and packed with hearty mushrooms and protein-rich red lentils.

It’s an ideal way to warm up on a chilly night and incorporate nutrients into your everyday sauce in a flavorful way. Let us show you how it’s done!

Tomato paste, olive oil, mushrooms, carrots, crushed tomatoes, pasta, red lentils, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, garlic, salt, and basil

What is Bolognese?

Bolognese is an Italian sauce, typically made with meat, that gets its name from the Italian city of Bologna. The sauce is often served on top of pasta or as a component in lasagna and is made by cooking meat with soffrito (onions, celery, and carrots) and tomatoes to create a thick sauce.

The following vegan version uses mushrooms and lentils for a similar texture and super-savory flavor!

How to Make Vegan Bolognese

Similar to traditional bolognese, this recipe starts with a soffrito-inspired base of carrots, onions, and garlic. Since we want a saucy sauce, blitzing them in the food processor saves time on chopping and creates a beautiful, fine texture.

Carrots chopped in a food processor

While the veggies sauté, the mushrooms take a turn in the food processor before joining the party. Then the other party-goers arrive, including salt, tomato paste, red pepper flakes (optional), crushed tomatoes, lentils, and water.

Adding crushed tomatoes over red lentils and sautéed mushrooms and onions

Then the sauce cooks to meld the flavors for a comforting and rich result. While the sauce is cooking, there’s time to cook the pasta and get the garlic bread in the oven, friends! Lastly, a touch of fresh basil, and it’s done.

Dutch oven filled with vegan lentil bolognese

We hope you LOVE this vegan bolognese! It’s:

Savory
Garlicky
Subtly spicy
Comforting
& SO flavorful!

It’s satisfying on its own or paired with other Italian-inspired dishes. Pairing ideas? Try our Garlicky Sautéed Greens, Perfect Roasted Asparagus, or Fluffy Gluten-Free Focaccia Bread!

And for dessert? Our Vegan Tiramisu Pudding Cups are not to be missed!

More Vegan Pasta Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Bowls of pasta topped with vegan bolognese, basil, and vegan parmesan cheese

Vegan Bolognese with Mushrooms & Red Lentils

Easy, flavorful pasta with mushrooms, veggies, and red lentils in a rich, herby tomato sauce. A satisfying vegan entrée with just 10 ingredients required!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Close up shot of a bowl of vegan bolognese topped with basil and vegan parmesan cheese
4.95 from 36 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4 (Servings)
Course Entrée
Cuisine Gluten-Free (optional), Italian-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 3-4 Days

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped (1 onion yields ~2 cups or 195 g)
  • 1 medium carrot, roughly chopped (1 carrot yields ~1/4 cup or 60 g)
  • 4 large cloves garlic (4 large cloves yield ~2 Tbsp or 18 g)
  • 3-4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz. whole baby bella or cremini mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 ½ – 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1/2 cup uncooked red lentils
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (optional but recommended)
  • 12 oz. dry pasta, ideally a short tube shape like rigatoni or penne (gluten-free as needed)

FOR SERVING optional

Instructions

  • Peel and roughly chop the onion, carrot, and garlic and add them to a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Alternatively, finely chop by hand.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the finely chopped onion, carrot, and garlic and sauté until translucent and soft, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, add the mushrooms to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped (or chop by hand). Add the chopped mushrooms to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until starting to brown. Next add the tomato paste, sea salt (starting with the lesser amount), and optional crushed red pepper flakes and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  • Stir in the crushed tomatoes, water, and lentils. Bring the sauce to a boil and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for ~30 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the lentils are tender and starting to break down. Then stir in the optional chopped basil and turn off the heat. Taste and adjust as needed, adding more tomato paste for richness or salt to taste.
  • When the sauce is nearly done, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package instructions, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  • Once the pasta is al dente (tender with a little bite), drain it and divide between your serving bowls. Top with your desired amount of sauce and garnish with vegan parmesan cheese and more fresh basil (both optional).
  • Leftover sauce will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Video

Notes

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with gluten-free brown rice pasta, the lesser amount of olive oil, and without optional ingredients.

Nutrition (1 of 4 servings)

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 406 Carbohydrates: 67.4 g Protein: 14.9 g Fat: 13 g Saturated Fat: 1.8 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.1 g Monounsaturated Fat: 8.1 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 1272 mg Potassium: 1159 mg Fiber: 9.9 g Sugar: 13.7 g Vitamin A: 520 IU Vitamin C: 27 mg Calcium: 112 mg Iron: 0.4 mg

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My Rating:




  1. Aisha says

    So delicious! Made this for dinner last night and it was a real hit. I love the way the food processor makes the process so streamlined so there’s minimal prep work. I added a few tbsp of nutritional yeast at the end and served over protein pasta. Highly recommend!

  2. Robin says

    This was outstanding! I didn’t modify anything at all. It was rich in texture and taste. My Italian husband didn’t even ask “where’s the meat”? Thanks for the recipe and I’ll definitely make it again!

  3. Sarah O'Brien says

    So tasty…I hand chopped everything and added a green pepper and used sliced mushrooms… I added black pepper and used dried basil and a some oregano… and added peas, sweetcorn and spinach, such a rich flavour… I also added orzo instead of cooking pasta separately, so a one pot meal that I will definitely be making again 😋

  4. Renée says

    A crowd pleaser. Made it for meat eaters and vegans. Everyone enjoyed it! Love the extra fiber and protein from the lentils. Thank you!

  5. Rebekah says

    I am slowly cooking my way thru your top 10 recipes of 2023. They’ve all been incredible and this one did not disappoint! I will add this to my weekend rotation as it took a bit more time on a busy week night. The addition of using the food processor to chop up the veggies was brilliant though! Thank you as always. Your recipes never let me down and they make my husband think I’m a world class chef. :)

  6. Ellen L says

    I’ve never left a review before but this is my first because it’s sooooo good! Rich flavorful filling delicious

  7. Tracy St. Romain says

    I made this tonight and it was oh so delicious! Even my husband who typically turns his nose up at vegan dishes loved this.

  8. Victoria F says

    Very good. I do not like mushrooms, so I only used about 1/4 cup and chopped them well in the food processor, as directed. There were not noticeable. I added chopped walnuts, dried basil, dried oregano, some fennel seeds, and a pinch of sugar.

  9. Rose says

    I made this for our family tonight and it was so good. The only additions I had was some dried oregano and dried basil. This is a definite make again meal.

  10. Sabrina says

    This is insanely good. I followed the recipe exactly, it was really straightforward. I served it with penne alongside vegan meatballs also from this site. Will be making again!

  11. Susan says

    Tasty, easy and nutritious. What more could you want? Thanks for the great recipe. This will go into our regular rotation.

  12. New at this says

    I just made it. Love it. Added some sugar to the sauce. Ivlike my sauce sweet and spicy. I serviced it over roasted new potatoes. (I don’t eat a lot of pasta. Next time I’m going to use the mini chop to save time and ad more carrots, mushrooms and some spinach/kale. Thank you for the recipe.

    • Renee says

      An observation: in the world of online recipe ratings anything less than 5 stars is ding. I would never give a recipe less than 5 if I’d made significant alterations, as you did here.

  13. Kaitlyn Wileman says

    This recipe is delicious! I have made it twice now. I am curious if the amount of pasta is correct? 12 oz. of dry pasta yields around 7 and a half cups of cooked penne. I had a lot of pasta compared to sauce. Overall this dish is really great and comforting and will no doubt be a monthly staple.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Kaitlyn, we used gluten-free pasta when making this recipe, which we think may expand a little less when cooked, so perhaps that’s the difference. Feel free to use less pasta, if preferred!

  14. Nikki says

    Obsessed! Just made this tonight and it was SO good. Definitely sharing this one with my friends/family. Thank you for another great recipe!!

  15. Janet says

    This bolognese is so good!! Trying to incorporate healthier meals and was skeptical. Even my 70 year old husband loved it. Thank you!!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you and your husband enjoyed it, Janet. Thanks so much for the lovely review! xo

  16. Katherine says

    Great recipe! Love the mushrooms and lentils for a great bolognese-like texture. Makes more than I thought it would, this could easily serve a family/crowd! Would recommend and will be making again.

  17. Kate says

    This is a wonderful dish, thank you so much. I’ve been looking for eons on a delicious recipe that includes mushrooms and this is it.. mission accomplished. So tasty, so good x

  18. Kathryn says

    This tasted soooo good. Despite turning up his nose at the sound of it, my teenage son really enjoyed this meal. I’ll be cooking it again!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for the lovely review. We are so glad you enjoyed it! Next time, would you mind leaving a star rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! xo

  19. Stacy says

    We tried this mainly due to the protein content, and we both really loved it. My husband wanted to add red wine to the sauce, but we didn’t have any on hand, so it was made as-is and was perfect.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Red wine would be delicious in this to deglaze the pan! We’re so glad you and your husband enjoyed it, Stacy. Thanks so much for the lovely review! xo

  20. Suzanne says

    Excellent recipe! Red lentils are my favorites and they do not get mushy. I did not have fresh basil so I used dried. I will make this again when basil is growing in my garden.

  21. Nikki says

    Minimalist Baker for the win! Again! My teen declared “I really like mushrooms” after unknowingly devouring a plateful. A truly delicious and filling dish. Thank you so much for this and all of your veg-forward (and planet- AND family-friendly) recipes!

  22. Laura D says

    The flavor of this was delicious!! I will absolutely make it again. I salted the veggies as I cooked them, and cooked the mushroom veggie mix a lot longer until they were starting to brown and stick to the pot. At the recommended cooking time they were still soggy and mushy.

    I did have a problem with my lentils not getting soft and mushy like reds usually get for me- I simmered for an extra hour or two trying to get them to break down but they remained a bit toothsome. Worried about feeding potentially undercooked lentils to my kids, I ended up feeding them nuggets and my husband and I were the guinea pigs (we didn’t get sick so safe to say it was fine to eat).
    I don’t think my lentils were old, so I’m wondering if cooking them in the salted and acidic tomato sauce was the reason they were tougher than usual? I’m not sure, but I’m hoping to figure it out and keep making this delicious dish. Thanks!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Laura, thank you for sharing! We’re so glad you enjoyed the flavor. It’s normal for red lentils to be a little more textured when cooked this way, but we haven’t found it to be an issue. However, you can cook them separately in water, if preferred. We just prefer more texture. Hope that helps!

  23. Allison says

    Hi Dana! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. We made this last night and it was just perfect over pasta. The best leftovers, too. You are right about the basil – do add! We also had fresh thyme and oregano, so we added as well. I have been following you for quite some time and I enjoy all of the recipes you share with your community. Thank you!

  24. Jana says

    This turned out awesome!!! I didn’t have mushrooms, so I subbed a can of artichoke hearts… It was so yummy!!! I will make it with mushrooms next time! Thank you for sharing!!!

  25. Tara says

    Really tasty, and my boys (1&3) loved it. I actually followed the instructions through step 3 and through everything in the slow cooker after lunch. Then all I had to do was cook some pasta at dinner time. Will make this again for sure.

  26. Emily says

    Super tasty!! Our whole family loved, and it was simple to make with a food processor. Will definitely make again! Thanks!!

  27. Bakingbikingmom says

    This was way yummier than I had even imagined! Absolutely delicious, and so healthy. I also added about 1/2-3/4 cup minced spinach leaves for extra iron.

  28. Bunny says

    In the US your soffritto is called a mirepoix. I’m going to make this recipe for a dinner I’m catering in a couple of weeks. There will be a few vegans and I try to make something they can enjoy.

  29. Brook P. says

    I was excited to see this recipe as I love red lentils. I’m happy to report that my kids (ages 1,1 and 3) all gobbled it up! I will definitely be making this again, as it was a great way to sneak some veggies into them.

  30. Erin says

    This was the perfect satisfying meal for my pasta craving! I decided to go with Italian tortiglioni pasta and real parmesan cheese but kept everything else the same. Delish!

  31. Norah says

    I made this tonight without onion, because they sadly don’t agree with me, so I added an extra carrot and I used dried basil in lieu of fresh basil leaves. It was easy to make and so delicious! Flavors and textures were spot on. Love your recipes and always look forward to your newsletter. Keep ’em coming!

  32. Sherri says

    Made this tonight. So good! And fairly easy with the use of the food processor. I’m looking forward to leftovers. Will definitely be making this again.

  33. Wendy says

    Made this today since I needed a lentil recipe. It was easy and quick. I added more carrots and some frozen cauli-rice and increased lentils to 2/3 cup, plus added some oregano. It was a great lunch – thanks!