When I was a kid, pasta with Bolognese sauce was always a favorite of mine and one of my go-to’s at any Italian restaurant. The thick, hearty sauce felt like a meal in itself, so when ordered with pasta, it was like getting two for one in my mind. It felt like such a step up from regular sauce and I could not understand why anyone would conceivably choose plain old marinara when they could have Bolognese.
That said, I haven’t had Bolognese sauce in a long time. When I was toying with what to make for dinner last night, I went through the protein options I had on hand – tofu, tempeh, quinoa… and then I spotted the lentils.
I absolutely love lentils. They are delicious, hearty, and cheap, plus are the only dried bean that not only requires no soaking, but also cooks in 15-20 minutes. Lentils make an awesome substitute for ground meat (see my Lentil Loaf and Spiced Lentil Mushroom Tacos) because the texture and satisfaction is there and you can barely tell the difference from the “real thing”. After toying with a few ideas in my head, I decided exactly what I would make for dinner.
Lentil Bolognese Sauce
This sauce is delicious and satisfying, plus much healthier than its counterpart. A cup of regular Bolognese sauce clocks in at 13 pts+, whereas my version has just 3 pts+ per generous one cup serving. This would be a great recipe to make for a crowd because it will please the meatiest of eaters – and you don’t even have to tell them it’s vegan. It freezes well, and can be used anywhere you’d use regular Bolognese sauce – on pasta, in lasagna, with gnocchi, or as pictured below with polenta.
Yields 8, 1 cup servings. 3 pts+ each.
Here’s what you need for success:
- 1 cup dried lentils (any variety)
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
- 2 large carrots, grated
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup veggie stock (or chicken)
- salt and pepper to taste
First, cook your lentils. Rinse them and then add them to a pot with 2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, then down to a simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside. (You can chop your veggies up while the lentils are cooking if you haven’t done so already.)
Heat up the oil in a pot or dutch oven and then add in your onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
Once that’s soft, add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Next, add in your celery and carrots.
And cook until all veggies are translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
Now, add in the rest of your ingredients – the mushrooms, canned tomatoes (with their juice), cooked lentils, and stock.
Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a boil.
Cover and then turn down the heat and let cook for 20-25 minutes.
Finally, using a stick blender or a regular blender (but be careful and do it in small batches since the sauce is very hot if you use a regular blender!), blend until desired consistency.
I blended mine until the consistency was uniform, and eerily like meat sauce!
Season with salt and pepper if desired and enjoy!
I froze one quart of the sauce, and kept the other quart out to use.
I wasn’t really in the mood for pasta, so when I spotted this tube of polenta from Trader Joe’s in my cupboard I grabbed it.
The entire thing has 9 pts+, so I divided it into 3, and cooked 2 of the servings in a pan with nonstick spray (one for dinner, one for lunch).
Once that was done, I topped half with a generous serving of the Lentil Bolognese sauce and to un-veganize it, added 1 tbsp of parmesan cheese.
The sauce was so thick and delicious and stood up to my fork!
It really packs a punch since its so hearty with the lentils, but I had trouble stopping at just one serving because its so delicious! I see vegetarian lasagna in my near future!
Do you ever make your own sauce or mostly use canned/jarred sauces? What’s your favorite kind of pasta sauce? I love Bolognese (obviously) but vodka sauce is a close second! I usually use jarred sauce, but spice it up by adding my own veggies/spices. This was super easy and delicious though, so I imagine you’ll be seeing this again on here!