Lentil Bolognese with Pappardelle Pasta

Updated: Dec 27th, 2020 · By Bethany Kramer
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This lentil bolognese is a delicious spin on a classic “meat sauce”. It’s super filling and loaded with so many hearty vegetables!

Ceramic bowl with fork twisted with pasta noodles with red lentil sauce over top of noodles.

Red meat sauce or “bolognese” is a classic dish in Italian cuisine! It’s usually made with ground beef, onions & garlic, maybe even some carrots, and is dressed in a traditional red sauce.

This lentil bolognese is my take on the beloved “meat sauce” but it’s made with a handful of vegetables instead of beef! It is absolutely delicious and super filling.

To make this dish happen, chop up a few veggies (make sure the cuts are very small), sauté everything in a pan, and then toss it all with pasta noodles. Bellissimo!

Whether you’re a meat-eater or veggie lover, I know you will love every bite of this hearty sauce!

The Ingredients You Need

Here is a full list of all the ingredients you’ll need in this recipe: pappardelle noodles, fresh basil, olive oil, cooked lentils, mushrooms, carrots, red onion, fresh garlic, and tomato/pasta sauce.

Ingredients for lentil bolognese arranged on a white background.

How to Make Lentil Bolognese

  • (1) Sauté onions for 2-3 minutes on low to medium heat. Then stir in garlic for last 30 seconds with pinch of salt.
  • (2) Then add carrots and cook with onions for 4-5 minutes.

(3) Add chopped mushrooms and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
(4) Finally, add cooked lentils and tomato sauce to cooked vegetables. Simmer for several minutes until sauce is warm. Serve with cooked pasta, fresh chopped basil, and fresh parmesan if desired!

A cast iron skillet with red lentil bolognese sauce in it with wooden spoon.

Top Tips for This Recipe

Finely chop vegetables: I like to keep the cuts of veggies super small for this sauce so the lentils can truly shine. I recommend doing extra small diced cuts of each vegetable.
Don’t overcook lentils: whenever preparing lentils for the recipe, I make sure they’re never overcooked. I want the lentils to have texture and have a “bite” to them. Taste test them towards the end of their cook time to make sure texture is perfect.
My top picks for pasta sauces to use: I made this recipe with crushed tomatoes and personally felt there could be so much more flavor. So I recommend using a homemade tomato sauce, a spicy arrabbiata sauce, or use my family’s favorite store-bought pasta sauce.
Additional pasta noodles you can use: instead of pappardelle you can use tagliatelle, rigatoni, penne, rotini, or fusilli noodles. You can also make it gluten free by using chickpea pasta noodles!

Tips For Leftovers & Freezing

Keep leftovers fresh: store leftover pasta and bolognese in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Reheat in a pan on LOW heat.

Freezing tips: cool bolognese and store in a ziplock freezer-friendly bag or an airtight container. Freeze for up to 1-2 months. Thaw at room temperature, heat in pot, and serve with cooked pasta noodles.

Reheating leftover bolognese: If sauce is mixed with pasta, you can toss noodles with lentil sauce in a skillet pan – add a little splash of water if needed. Heat until warm. You can also warm up bolognese in a separate pot and serve with fresh pasta.

Hand holding fork and twisting pasta noodles in red lentil bolognese sauce.

If you’ve never had a vegetable version of a bolognese sauce, I am a firm believer that you will thoroughly enjoy it. The texture and flavor is super hearty and has the perfect bite from the lentils!

As a pasta lover, I am all about a good red sauce to pair with noodles. And when lots of vegetables are involved, I am all about it.

More Veggie Filled Pasta Dishes

If you love this veggie filled pasta dish, you may also be a fan of some of our other similar recipes!

Lentil Bolognese with Pappardelle Pasta

5 from 1 vote
This lentil bolognese is a delicious spin on a classic "meat sauce". It's super filling and loaded with so many hearty vegetables!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Serves 4


  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cooked lentils (see notes for directions)
  • 1 24 oz jar pasta sauce
  • dried pappardelle pasta noodles
  • fresh basil
  • salt & black pepper to taste


  • Prepare vegetables: First, remove skin from onion and dice in very small pieces. Mince garlic cloves. Cut mushrooms and carrots into small diced pieces.
  • Cook onions: In a large sauce pan on medium heat, sauté onions in oil for 2-3 minutes until soft. Stir in minced garlic for last minute.
  • Add additional veggies: add chopped carrots to cooked onions & garlic. Cook for about 4-5 minutes. Then add chopped mushrooms with pinch of salt and cook for 3-4 additional minutes.
  • The sauce & lentils: Add pasta sauce and cooked lentils to vegetables. Stir and sit heat on low/warm while you prepare pasta.
  • Cook the pasta: Bring pot of well salted water to a boil. Cook pasta as instructed or until pasta is al dente and has a "bite" to it. Drain pasta – I usually leave a little bit of pasta water in with the noodles so they don't dry up.
  • Serve it up: Add a few scoops of sauce to pot with pasta and toss together. Serve with extra lentil bolognese sauce, chopped fresh basil, black pepper, and fresh parmesan if desired.


How to cook lentils: First, rinse lentils. Boil 3 cups of water with generous pinch of salt. Add 1 cup green lentils to boiling water and stir, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 12-15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Test the texture of the lentils towards the end of your cook time – the texture should have a bite and not be soft/mushy.
Generously salt pasta water: whenever making pasta, it’s always important to generously salt your pasta water to get the most flavor out of your noodles. I usually eye-ball the amount of salt I use, but you can season with about 1-2 teaspoons of salt (this also depends on how big your pot of water is). 
Additional pasta noodles you can use: instead of pappardelle you can use tagliatelle, rigatoni, penne, rotini, or fusilli noodles. You can also make it gluten free by using chickpea pasta noodles!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword lentil bolognese, lentil ragu, vegetable bolognese
Freezer Friendly Yes
Author Bethany Kramer


Calories: 473kcal | Carbohydrates: 85.4g | Protein: 21.2g | Fat: 7.5g | Cholesterol: 3.3mg | Sodium: 741.2mg | Sugar: 12.4g | Vitamin A: 23IU | Vitamin C: 10mg

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