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Red Lentil Ragu with Rigatoni Pasta

Red lentil ragu, a real hearty and wholesome vegan or vegetarian pasta sauce that also makes a wonderful topping for baked potatoes!

It is big, hearty and bold sauce and features tomato passata, red wine, and just a smidge of dried chilli flakes.

It cooks in under an hour and can also be made in advance and reheated later.

Red lentil ragu or bolognese served with rigatoni pasta with fresh basil leaves.

Vegan Red Lentil Bolognese.

So is this a lentil ragu or a bolognese, I’ve used both here as a waystation for folk that want to find a glorious lentil based pasta sauce.

Also because I love being shouted at by strangers on the internet.

A bolognese is a type of ragu that began life in Bologna, so correctly speaking a bolognese is a ragu but not all ragus are bolognese.

But in reality, for most people the words are used interchangeably, much the chagrin of some and the utter ambivalence of most.

This red lentil ragu joins dishes as varied as my mushroom ragu through to my venison ragu.

For those with an eye for “authenticity” and whatever that means, I do have a classic meaty ragu alla bolognese that is sublime!

Overhead of a red lentil ragu or bolognese served with rigatoni pasta.

Frequently Asked Questions.

Can I use different lentils?

Yellow lentils work relatively well in this dish, they cook in the same time as red lentils.

Green, brown or Puy lentils all take longer to cook and do not break down quite so well.

I would personally stick with the red as they are more versatile and you can use up leftovers in my Turkish lentil soup or shepherdess pie.

What wine should I use?

I’ll reiterate my stance that friends do not let friends use cooking wine.

Beyond that, this recipe calls for a rich and bold wine, although one that is not too sweet. Something like a Malbec or Syrah would be perfect.

If you are aiming to keep this vegan be sure to check the label on your wine.

What is tomato passata?

Passata is sieved tomatoes, and is referred to a tomato sauce in the US I believe.

Can I use sun dried tomatoes that are not stored in oil?

Yes, but you will need to soak them for 30 minutes before using them.

Cover them in enough hot water to just cover them, be sure to use this water as part of the water you add to cook the lentils.

Will this freeze?

This recipe will freeze for up to three months with no problems. I would usually freeze enough for two in a strong, thick freezer bag.

Then just drop that bag in simmering water, boil in the bag style, in order to reheat.

This method retains moisture and stops your frozen food drying out. It is a method I use for everything from frozen mashed potato to frozen curry!

Close up of a red lentil ragu or bolognese served with rigatoni pasta.

Serving Suggestions.

There are so many serving options for a pasta ragu.

I serve my duck ragu with bucatini pasta my Italian Sausage Ragu comes with a cheesy polenta.

I like serving this with rigatoni or penne just like my wild boar ragu.

But it would also be awesome with some wide flat pappardelle pasta.

And it makes for the most wonderful filling for a vegetarian lasagna bolognese. You can just replace the meat ragu in this classic lasagna recipe and off you go.

It also makes for a glorious topping for baked potatoes, as a side not I have just learned that you can make glorious jacket potatoes in the air fryer!

Close up vegan red lentil ragu or bolognese served with rigatoni pasta and fresh basil leaves.
Yield: 2 Servings

Lentil Ragu Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

This simple vegan lentil ragu recipe is a hearty big "bolognese" style sauce for the pasta of your choice and I promise, you won't miss the meat!


  • 100g (~1/2 Cup) Dry Lentils
  • 50g (~1/3 Cup) Onion
  • 50g (~1/3 Cup) Carrot
  • 35g (~1/3 Cup) Celery
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 50g (~1/4 Cup) Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Oil
  • 1/2 Tsp Chipotle Chilli Flakes
  • 125ml (1/2 Cup) Red Wine
  • 250ml (1 Cup) Tomato Passata
  • 250ml (1 Cup) Water
  • 1/2 Tsp Sugar
  • 3/4 Tsp Coarse Sea Salt
  • 175g (6oz) Dry Pasta


  1. Cut the onion, celery, and carrot into a 2-3mm dice.
  2. Heat the oil over a medium-low heat in a wide frying pan or skillet.
  3. Add the onion, carrot and celery and soften without colouring for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Dice the garlic cloves as finely as you can.
  5. Chop the sun-dried tomatoes into a 3-4mm dice.
  6. Add the garlic and dried chilli flakes to the vegetables and cook for 60 seconds.
  7. Turn the heat up to high and add the lentils and red wine, then cook for 2 minutes, the lentils should soak up the wine quickly.
  8. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the tomato passata and water.
  9. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, sugar and salt.
  10. Stir well, add a lid and simmer for 30 minutes.


Not all wine is vegan, and the same goes for pasta so read your labels!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 779Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 994mgCarbohydrates: 116gFiber: 12gSugar: 9gProtein: 27g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

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