Lentil Bolognese Ragu

Every home cook should be able to make a good Bolognese. Vegans are no exception and this is one I make all the time. Make a big batch as it freezes well, so if you are stuck in the week for something to cook, this will always be there.

A traditional Bolognese Ragu will be rich and meaty. Beef is actually extremely lean, so in order to get some fat, pork fat is used. Making what could actually be a really healthy meal, one of the worst, especially when loaded with parmesan and eaten with garlic bread and white pasta like we do!

My recipe replaces the meat with red lentils. A great taste by itself, it definitely needs help when being used as a slow cooked ragu. So I spice it up with some smoked paprika, as well as the traditional oregano. The real trick though is using a concentrated beef style stock to add some saltiness and richness. Normally, I would say use a homemade vegetable stock but the beef style is more suited here, just make sure it is beef style and not beef!

Lentil Bol top

Serves 4


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 large glass red wine (like, really large!)
  • 2 cups dried split red lentils
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 1.5l litres concentrated beef style stock (made with a bit less water than they recommend)
  • 2 bayleaves
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper

Lentil Bol other

Cook it:

  1. Heat a large casserole dish or sauté pan over a medium heat
  2. Add the oil and onion. Fry for 5 minutes
  3. Add the carrot, celery and pepper and fry for 5 more minutes
  4. Add the garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes
  5. Add the lentils and give everything a stir. Make a hole in the middle and add the tomato paste. Fry for a few seconds and then fold everything in and stir. Add the wine and let it cook for a minute or two to kill the alcohol
  6. Add the tomatoes, paprika, oregano, bay leaves and stock, bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer. Cook stirring frequently for an hour or so. You may need to add some more stock/water as you go if it gets too dry…
  7. Season with salt and pepper and taste to make sure everything is balanced
  8. Serve with pasta, polenta, potatoes, crusty bread, as a sloppy joes, in an empanada or just on toast!

Recommended Tunes:

Jimi Hendrix “Electric Ladyland”

Jimi is my all time hero. He is my God, my religion. I hardly ever listen to him these days as it is such a personal experience but when I do, I get stuck in a Hendrix warp and listen to nothing else until it passes. I am in one of those at the moment. This is arguably his best album, it is certainly his most thought out and is as close to a “masterpiece” as you will get. If you haven’t heard this album or need an introduction to Jimi, I would say start from the beginning, get “Are You Experienced”, but if you are aware or a casual fan, then get this spinning NOW.

Thanks Lord Jimi.

Listen – but do yourself a favour and buy it on vinyl!!


3 thoughts on “Lentil Bolognese Ragu

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