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!
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.
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.
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.
We hope you LOVE this vegan bolognese! It’s:
& 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
- Creamy Mushroom and Asparagus Pasta (GF)
- Vegan Pasta Al Limone
- Creamy Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff (GF Optional)
- Easy 1-Pot Vegan Spaghetti (30 Minutes!)
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!
Vegan Bolognese with Mushrooms & Red Lentils
- 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
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- Fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 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.
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