Lentil Bolognese


Lentil Bolognese is a great alternative to a traditional Bolognese | @Susan Salzman | www.theurbanbaker.comFall has finally arrived in sunny Los Angeles and it’s that slight chill in the air that makes me yearn for warm soups, one pot stews, and hearty pasta dishes. One night a week pasta is on the menu and it was this dish that my eldest son chose for his week night pick. All three of my boys are “required” to pick a meal each week and it is their job to help me prep and cook the entire thing(those that don’t cook are on clean up duty). Eli, being 15, is pretty darn good with the knife and watching him dice the vegetables was a proud moment.

What I love most about this dish is that it has all the elements of a traditional bolognese without the addition of any form of meat. The lentils become the heart of the dish, coupled with spinach for your greens, and Parmesan for your milk, it’s one of those one pot dishes that’s covered all of our four basic food groups. Served with a crusty baguette, a glass of wine (for the adults) and a little something special for dessert, no one walks away from the table hungry or complaining.

A big pot of Lentil Bolognese | @Susan Salzman | www.theurbanbaker.com


Lentil Bolognese


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh tomato marinara, preferably homemade or a good, jarred sauce (Lidia’s is pretty darn good)
1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled plum tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped (reserve the juice)
2 cups cooked lentils
1 cup fresh, chopped spinach
fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp.kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 pound penne brown rice pasta
grated Parmesan


• bring a large pot of water to a boil. once boiling add salt and the pasta. boil according to package directions. reserve 2 cups of cooking liquid.
• in a large sauepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil.
• add the onion, carrot, and celery, and slowly cook unitl veggies are soft and a bit charred, about 20 minutes.
• add garlic and saute for 1 minute.
• add the marinara and stir to combine. turn up heat and cook until the mixture dries out.
• add the reserved juice and deglaze the pan, reducing the liquid by half.
• stir in the tomatoes, lentils, and 1 cup of stock or water. bring to a boil and add salt and pepper. cook unitl it thickens and warms through.
• right before serving add the chopped spinach and stir to combine.
• once pasta is ready, drain, reserving some of hte cooking liquid – just in case.
• serve the lentils over the pasta. sprinkle with Parmesan and either chopped fresh basil or parsley.

* there is always enough leftovers for lunch the next day!

The Urban Baker / SusanSalzman.com

Lots of links to lentil goodness
Vegetable and Red Lentil Salad – Bev Cooks
Lentils and Drumsticks – My Lemony Kitchen
Lentil Stew with Italian Sausage – Closet Cooking
Green Lentil Caviar – The Urban Baker
Lentil Fritters – US Masala Kachdee
Indian Style Red Lentils – Kalyn’s Kitchen

Showing 13 comments
  • Reply

    I love how hearty lentils are. This looks like the perfect fall supper! Yum.

  • marla

    A great alternative to meat sauce! Perfect ski food 🙂

  • Siri

    Absolutely loved the idea of adding lentils instead of meat to this classic dish. Its chilly in our part of the world too and this dish is perfect as a weeknight meal. 🙂


    • Susan

      Hi Siri! Yes, it’s so easy and it’s perfect for those weeknight meals when time is not on our side!

  • Kim

    Love this sauce with lentils, it’s filling and it’s low in fat!

  • Esi

    I MUST make this over the fall/winter. Looks so comfy and filling.

  • Deb

    I am always searching for meatless dinner recipes that are full of flavor and simple to prepare. Your lentil bolognese is just perfect for a crisp fall evening!

    • Susan

      Yes, Deb – it’s the perfect fall meal. Altered a bit, it also makes a great summer pasta salad by dumbing down the sauce and using fresh, uncooked ingredients.

  • Shari Garrison

    I am so grateful for this recipe and have made it just this morning. I have recently gone vegan, for health reasons, and cannot even have oil. I omitted the EVOO. It tastes great! Thank you!

    • Susan

      Shari – so wonderful to see your name pop up in my inbox! I have been entertaining the idea of going vegan – however would have to be very slowly. Each Sunday, I make one grain and one legume and I keep it in the freezer. I make stuff like this from having the cooked stuff on hand. I am going to soon post my lentil burgers – you will love those just as much as this! Keep me posted on your new journey. x

  • aida mollenkamp

    Susan – I love this idea! I’ll be trying it out just as soon as I get a little free time on my hands!

  • Patricia Scarpin

    Suz, I love the idea of a lentil bolognese – looks so fresh and delicious!

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