This mushroom lentil bolognese features the rich flavors of the classic Italian dish with a satisfying vegan take on ragu.
Bolognese sauce is a type of ragù meat sauce. This vegan version features lentils and diced mushrooms for a warm and hearty sauce. Vegan ragu never tasted better!
Serve over your favorite pasta. I recommend ribbon pasta like tagliatelle, linguine, or fettuccine or short pasta cuts like rigatoni or campanelle. Enjoy with a glass of red wine.
The key to the flavors in this vegan lentil bolognese is the seasoning blend. Oregano, bay leaves, and fresh basil deliver on the flavor for this modern take on a classic dish. This is a year-round classic, but you will especially love mushroom lentil bolognese in the fall and winter months.
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- Vegan and vegetarian-friendly: Loaded with carrots and mushrooms, this dish is veggie-forward.
- Rich flavors: This is a warm and hearty home-cooked meal
- Pasta - Ribbon pasta or short pasta
- Olive oil - To sautee the veggies
- Onion - Diced, yellow onion or sweet onion
- Garlic - Minced garlic cloves
- Tomato purée - A thick tomato paste
- White mushrooms - Small diced
- Carrots - Small diced
- Dried bay leaves
- Crushed tomatoes - Do not drain the liquid
- Vegetable broth - Or vegetable stock, for flavor
- Dry green lentils - Dry lentils are a great plant-based protein found near the dry beans or bulk ingredients aisle
- Vegan Worcestershire sauce - see Substitutions for recommendations
- Brown sugar - Organic brown sugar
- Basil - Fresh basil for a fresh and bright flavor
See the recipe card for quantities.
Boil pasta according to package directions. Be sure to salt the water. Drain and set aside.
Tip: Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. This can be used to thin out the bolognese sauce later if desired.
Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions, sautéing until softened.
Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds to 1 minute or until the garlic becomes fragrant.
Stir in the tomato purée.
Add the chopped mushrooms and carrots, cooking for 4–5 minutes, stirring regularly until the mushrooms have cooked down, softened, and released liquid.
Stir in the oregano, bay leaves, crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, and dried lentils and bring the mix to a simmer.
Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar.
Reduce to a low simmer for 45 minutes or until the lentils are fully cooked and tender. Stir regularly to prevent sticking.
Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste and stir in fresh basil right before serving.
Serve over al dente pasta and garnish with fresh basil and plant-based parmesan (optional). Vegan parmesan cheese is the perfect addition to this pasta sauce.
- Lentils: Green lentils can be substituted with French lentils or red lentils. If using red lentils, reduce the simmer time to 30 minutes. Brown lentils can be used but note that they cook faster.
- Worcestershire sauce: Traditional Worcestershire contains anchovies and, therefore, is not vegan. However, vegan Worcestershire is widely available (try Annie's, The Wizard's, or Kroger's store brand). You can also substitute soy sauce.
- Brown sugar: Refined sugar products are often not vegan because refineries use bone char. However, bone char is not approved for USDA Organic sugar products. Look for organic brown sugar to keep it strictly vegan.
- Basil: Dried basil can be used in place of fresh, but add dried basil at the same time as the oregano, rather than at the end.
- Pasta: To make this recipe gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta or zucchini noodles. A tasty alternative to pasta is spiralized zucchini.
- Red pepper flakes - If you like a little bit of spice, add ¼ to ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the sauce with the dried herbs.
Store mushroom lentil bolognese in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
This dish can be frozen for up to 3 months. Fully defrost before reheating. I recommend freezing the sauce and serving it over fresh pasta.
Lentils become tender when fully cooked, so the best way to tell is to try them. Undercooked lentils have a grainy texture. Green lentils tend to take around 45 minutes to become tender, whereas red lentils take around 30 minutes.
This plant-based bolognese is made with onion, garlic, tomato purée, white mushrooms, carrots, crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, vegan Worcestershire sauce, organic brown sugar, fresh basil, and dried seasonings.
Mushroom Lentil Bolognese
- 16 oz pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato purée
- 3 cups white mushrooms small diced
- 2 cups carrots small diced
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup dry green lentils
- 1 tablespoon Vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon organic brown sugar
- ¼ cup tightly packed fresh basil roughly chopped
- Boil pasta according to package directions. Be sure to salt the water. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, sautéing until softened.
- Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds to 1 minute or until the garlic becomes fragrant.
- Stir in the tomato purée.
- Add the mushrooms and carrots, cooking for 4–5 minutes, stirring regularly until the mushrooms have cooked down, softened, and released liquid.
- Stir in the oregano, bay leaves, crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, and lentils and bring the mix to a simmer.
- Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar.
- Reduce to a low simmer for 45 minutes or until the lentils are fully cooked and tender. Stir regularly to prevent sticking.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in fresh basil right before serving. Serve over pasta and garnish with fresh basil and plant-based parmesan (optional).