Bolognese meat sauces are the heavyweight champion of the pasta world, but the downside is its calorie count. This Vegan Spaghetti Lentil Bolognese is a hearty vegetarian pasta sauce that is full of high protein lentils. You will love this Vegan Spaghetti Lentil Bolognese recipe for how its sauce is filling and flavorful. This dish is as easy as cake! It only takes easy pantry ingredients to enjoy.
You can use green lentils in this recipe because they hold their shape when cooked. (They also work the best for making a lentil salad). Brown or black lentils should work similarly if you need to make a swap.
If you only have red lentils on hand, keep in mind that they will cook faster and may give this sauce more of a “mushy” texture. Not bad, just different!
Benefits of Lentils
Lentils are an affordable and accessible source of plant-based protein, and it’s amazing how they absorb the flavors that you cook them with.
Here’s why you’ll love Vegan Spaghetti Lentil Bolognese:
Lentils are rich in polyphenols, which may help to balance blood sugar. (source)
One 8-week study suggests that eating lentils each day may help to improve cholesterol, by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and raising the “good” HDL ones. (source)
Lentils may also help to lower blood pressure. (source)
Lentils are easy to store, so you can always have some on hand in your pantry!
In a large 6-quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onion, carrot, and celery until tender.
Add in the garlic, basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes and stir briefly.
To the vegetables, add in the lentils, maple syrup, crushed tomatoes, water, and 1 teaspoon of salt. (If the tomatoes are unsalted; otherwise start with just half the salt to be on the safe side.) Stir well, then bring the liquid to a boil.
Once boiling, lower the heat to a small simmer and let the sauce cook uncovered until the lentils are tender about 40 to 45 minutes. Stir every now and then to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot, and to make sure the liquid isn't evaporating too quickly. (If the heat is up too high, the liquid can evaporate too fast.)
When the lentils are easily smashed with a fork against the side of the pot, they are done. Season the sauce with additional salt to taste. (I usually add another 1 teaspoon, starting just 1/2 teaspoon at a time.) You can also brighten up the sauce with a squeeze of fresh lemon, or a splash of balsamic vinegar if you prefer.
Serve warm, with your favorite cooked noodles. The leftover sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or you can freeze it for up to 3 months.
Green lentils give this sauce the best texture because they hold their shape well, but you can make this with red lentils if you prefer. The cooking time will be at least 15 minutes shorter in this case.