Lentil bolognese cooked in a bold red wine sauce with sun-dried tomatoes and passata is the perfect vegan or vegetarian comfort food dinner.
It is a wonderfully simple dish to cook and comes together in around an hour, you can make it in advance, freeze it, reheat it and it is all sort of delicious!
Vegan Red Lentil Ragu
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 to the chagrin of some and the utter ambivalence of most.
For those with an eye for “authenticity” and whatever that means, I do have a classic meaty slow cooker ragu alla bolognese that is sublime!
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 use them in my lentil and bacon soup, they will work but are not ideal.
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. The same goes for the pasta!
What is tomato passata?
Passata is sieved tomatoes and is referred to as 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 the simmering water boil in the bag style.
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!
There are so many serving options for this lentil ragu, I’ve served it here with linguini.
It would work well with rigatoni or penne just like my wild boar ragu, 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 note I have just learned that you can make glorious jacket potatoes in the air fryer!
I only mention specific brands of equipment if I think they make a material difference to a recipe. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.
- 30cm or 12″ frying pan or skillet with a lid.
- 20cm or 8″ saucepan.
- Chopping board.
- Kitchen knife.
- Sieve or colander.
- Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
- Serving and stirring spoons.
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!
- 150g (~¾ Cup) Dried Red Lentils
- 100g (~⅔ Cup) Onion
- 50g (~⅓ Cup) Carrot
- 35g (~⅓ Cup) Celery
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, use the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes for a huge flavour upgrade!
- 4 Garlic Cloves
- 50g (~¼ Cup) Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Oil
- ½ Tsp Chilli Flakes (Optional)
- 375ml (½ Bottle) Red Wine
- 200g (¾-1 Cup) Tomato Passata
- 250ml (1 Cup) Vegetable Stock
- ½ Tsp Sugar
- 1 Tsp Marmite
- 175g (6oz) Dry Pasta
- Salt for Boiling Pasta
- Cut the onion in half, peel it and then dice it as finely as you can.
- Cut the celery into a dice roughly the same size as the onion.
- Chop the carrot into a dice roughly the same size as the celery and onion.
- Heat the oil over a medium-low heat in a 30cm or 12" frying pan or skillet.
- Add the onion, carrot and celery and soften without colouring for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Dice the garlic cloves as finely as you can.
- Drain the sun-dried tomatoes into a 5-6mm (¼") dice.
- Add the garlic and dried chilli flakes to the vegetables and cook for 60 seconds.
- Turn the heat up as high as it will go and add the lentils and red wine, then cook for 5-6 minutes, or until most of the wine has been soaked up or evaporated.
- Reduce the heat to low and stir in the tomato passata and vegetable stock and add the sun-dried tomatoes, sugar and marmite.
- Stir well, add a lid and simmer for 25 minutes.
- Just before the ragu is ready cook the pasta to your liking in salted boiling water, (I use a 20cm or 8" saucepan with 1½ teaspoons of water) then drain it reserving a little cooking water.
- Stir the pasta through the lentil ragu adding as much pasta water as necessary and serve with fresh basil.
Not all wine is vegan, and the same goes for pasta so read your labels!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 831Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 713mgCarbohydrates: 115gFiber: 15gSugar: 22gProtein: 25g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.