Lentil Bolognese Sauce

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

Plus…

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup veggie stock (or chicken)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

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!

27 Comments on Lentil Bolognese Sauce

  1. Stacy @ Every Little Thing
    March 24, 2011 at 8:37 am (9 years ago)

    That looks great! Matt made spaghetti sauce for Valentine’s Day that was really good, but REALLY spicy haha. He used a poblano pepper (I think that’s what it was) and it was just a bit much.

    I do like to make my own sauce sometimes but I also don’t mind the (all natural) jarred stuff. Sometimes, it’s OK to cut corners 🙂

    Reply
  2. Katie Photiadis
    March 24, 2011 at 8:37 am (9 years ago)

    Wow, Beth, that dinner looks so amazing! Bolognese sauce is also one of my favorites, and your sauce does eerily look like an actual meat sauce! I’m not sure about Polenta though…what’s your take on it?

    Reply
    • Beth
      March 24, 2011 at 9:26 am (9 years ago)

      I love polenta! if you cook it up in a pan it gets a little crispy on the outside but is still creamy. It’s great also because it’ll take on whatever flavors you pair it with. Plus, buying it in a tube like that is cheap and SO easy to prepare. You can bake it, microwave it, or pan fry it like I did and it cooks up in no time!

      Reply
  3. Holly
    March 24, 2011 at 8:45 am (9 years ago)

    Beth this looks so good!

    I always buy jarred sauces — but I’ll add more cut up veggies and seasonings to make it seem more homemade!

    Reply
  4. definediana
    March 24, 2011 at 8:58 am (9 years ago)

    Oh my goodness, that looks good. I am going to try this soon.

    Reply
  5. Gwen
    March 24, 2011 at 10:44 am (9 years ago)

    That sounds delightful Beth! I LOVE vodka sauce.

    Reply
  6. Amy @ Second City Randomness
    March 24, 2011 at 10:44 am (9 years ago)

    I think I hang my head in shame every time you cook with lentils. Because I have a desire to try them… I just never do…

    Reply
  7. Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean
    March 24, 2011 at 11:05 am (9 years ago)

    can’t wait to try this!!! i love that you blended it up. a great way to sneak lentils to the hubby 🙂

    Reply
  8. Jacqui Lewis-Lyons
    March 24, 2011 at 12:01 pm (9 years ago)

    That looks great! I know what’s for dinner tonight…

    Reply
  9. Liz
    March 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm (9 years ago)

    That looks so good, I can’t wait to try it!

    Now if I could just figure out a way to lighten up alfredo sauce. Care to take that one on next?

    Reply
  10. Lisa
    March 24, 2011 at 12:20 pm (9 years ago)

    That looks tasty! Two different polenta recipes in one day. The universe is reminding me I love polenta. 🙂

    Reply
  11. Carolyn @ Lovin' Losing
    March 24, 2011 at 3:16 pm (9 years ago)

    Looks delicious! I keep a lot of canned tomatoes around because they’re so versatile so I usually just use canned tomatoes instead of pasta sauce.

    Reply
  12. Lisa (bakebikeblog)
    March 24, 2011 at 6:47 pm (9 years ago)

    I love the addition of lentils in this sauce – what a great idea! I made a lasagne a while back using lentils in place of mince too!

    Reply
  13. Ashleigh
    March 24, 2011 at 7:37 pm (9 years ago)

    I love lentils! I need to make this. I usually just buy some diced tomatoes and add lots of fun things to it instead of jarred sauce. It’s easier and cheaper, plus I can finish a can no problem.

    Reply
  14. Lili
    March 24, 2011 at 7:41 pm (9 years ago)

    Looks amazing!! I will try this soon.
    Your blog is great, Beth!

    Reply
  15. sipsandsteps
    March 24, 2011 at 7:45 pm (9 years ago)

    Oh wow… now that looks good!!!!

    What does Polenta taste like?

    Reply
  16. Stephanie @ The Cookie Battle
    March 24, 2011 at 8:08 pm (9 years ago)

    I use jarred sauces but “doctor” them up with extra spices. Semi-homemade! I have always wanted to try making my own sauce, just haven’t gotten around to it, but it’s on my to do list for sure.

    Reply
  17. Dawn @ Dawns want to be fit
    March 24, 2011 at 8:24 pm (9 years ago)

    OMG That sauce looks amazing! I am making the Lentil Loaf tomorrow night for supper. I may have to make this sauce for Saturday supper, I love lentils! I love love love everything you cook and feature on your blog. I just jumped on the blogging train! I hope you don’t mind, I featured your blog in my blog list. Good luck Saturday in your half marathon!

    Reply
  18. Tanya
    March 25, 2011 at 7:40 am (9 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing. I am SO making this this weekend!

    Reply
  19. Monica
    March 26, 2011 at 10:15 am (9 years ago)

    Yum! I love polenta! I tend to make my own sauces at home, but keep it very simple. I love how creative you got with your sauce!

    Reply
  20. sarahsscrumptioussamplings
    March 28, 2011 at 10:02 pm (9 years ago)

    Looks delicious. I absolutely love lentils! I’m going to have to try this sauce: I bet it would be great on spaghetti squash!

    Reply
    • Beth
      March 28, 2011 at 10:03 pm (9 years ago)

      Ohhh good idea! It would be perfect for that!

      Reply

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