This vegan bolognese is hearty and rich, made with lentils, mushrooms, walnuts, and a ton of vegetables! Approved by picky meat eaters and kids, and perfect for stocking the freezer!
This is it. The BEST pasta sauce I have ever had, and it just so happens to be vegan!
With a ‘meaty’ base of walnuts, mushrooms and lentils, this vegan pasta sauce has delicious flavor and texture!
This is one of those pasta sauces I will be stocking the freezer with and coming back to time and time again. Not only did my kids love it, but my meat-loving husband said it rivalled any meat sauce he’s tried. Let’s call this a huge win!
Reasons you’ll love this vegan bolognese
- it’s vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free
- it’s freezer-friendly
- it is kid and meat eater approved…so tasty!
Don’t forget to pin this post to save it for later!
How to make lentil bolognese
For this recipe, you will need a food processor. <–that’s the basic one I own and love!
1. Process your veggies– do this in two groups. Group 1: mushrooms, onions & walnuts (add walnuts & pulse at the end). Group 2: carrots & celery.
2. Make your flavor base– the key to this lentil bolognese recipe is to layer the flavors in, and it all starts with the base: sautee the onions, mushrooms and walnuts for 10 or so minutes until they begin to brown.
3. Add garlic & wine– first make a space for garlic, then cook it for 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer for 1-2 minutes to evaporate off the water. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula to get all those brown bits off. <– brown bits = flavor!
4. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and make sure your temperature is not too high.
5. Stir in nutritional yeast and balsamic vinegar, and serve!
Can I freeze vegan bolognese sauce? Yes, you sure can! I like to freeze in 1 quart jars, or in these reusable plastic freezer jars. The texture does soften *slightly* after thawing.
Can I skip the nutritional yeast? No, I don’t recommend it, it really does add a ton of flavor to this pasta sauce.
Do I really need a food processor? You could try chopping everything up really small, but I’m not sure it would be the same. This lentil bolognese is all about the texture and it’s just perfect with the food processor.
What are some ways to use bolognese?
Other than the obvious pasta, this bolognese recipe can work in some other ways too:
- serve over zucchini noodles
- serve on a roll as ‘sloppy joes’
- use it in zucchini lasagna
- stuff it in a baked potato or sweet potato
- spoon it on nachos or sweet potato nachos
- serve it on zucchini boats or in stuffed bell peppers
Tips & equipment for the best vegan pasta sauce
- 1 onion (peeled and cut into 8)
- 8 oz mushrooms (225g; trimmed and cut into 4)
- 1 cup walnuts
- 2 carrots (peeled and cut into chunks)
- 2 ribs celery (cut into chunks)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 bay leaf
- 2/3 cup red lentils
- 2 cups water (or vegetable stock)
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the mushrooms and onions. Process, until chopped into very small pieces, scraping down sides as needed.
- Add the walnuts to the processor with the onions and mushrooms and pulse 10-15 times, until chopped into very small pieces.
- Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl. In the food processor, add the carrot and celery. Process until chopped in very small pieces, then set aside.
- In a 4 quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion/mushroom/walnut mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has steamed off most of the liquid and begins to brown. Keep an eye that it doesn't burn.
- Make a space in the middle of the pot and add the garlic. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add the white wine and simmer for 2-3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot with a spatula to remove all brown bits.
- Add the carrot/celery mixture, crushed tomatoes, salt, nutmeg, bay leaf, lentils and water
- Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, or until lentils are done to your liking. Stir the pot occasionally and keep an eye on the temperature so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.
- Stir in the nutritional yeast and balsamic vinegar, taste and adjust seasoning, and serve!
- This lentil bolognese may be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for 3-6 months.