Red Lentil Bolognese in Pan

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Bolognese is such a classic worldwide. There’s something so delicious and comforting about rich tomatoey sauce over steaming pasta and topped with some delicious parmesan cheese. This red lentil bolognese delivers everything you would expect from this favourite dish, sans the beef. If you are a meat-lover or are cooking this for an out and out carnivore, trust me, you won’t even miss it! If you are a beef ragu lover and don’t even know how you ended up on a vegetarian bolognese recipe – then you can also navigate here to my ultimate beef bolognese recipe.

Lentil bolognese for one

This recipe is great for making for one. While it does take around an hour to cook through, much of that time is ‘hands-off’ and you can leave it simmering away while you get on with things. 

It’s also a great recipe to freeze (instructions below), so it’s perfect for batch cooking. It also keeps for up to 3 days in the fridge, so you can cook a couple of portions and eat it throughout the week.

Red Lentil Bolognese in Bowl

How do you make it?

First, you gently saute the onion, carrot and celery in a frying pan. In Italy, this is called a ‘soffritto’ and you will often find it as the base for many great Italian dishes.

Next, you add the garlic and thyme and cook for a further minute before adding chopped tomatoes, red wine and the lentils. Add a splash of water and leave to simmer for 45 minutes (sit down, relax and have a glass of wine!) Stir in some freshly shredded or torn basil, grate over some parmesan and serve with some freshly cooked spaghetti. Yum!

How many calories does it have?

This bolognese recipe has 380 calories – excluding the pasta and any parmesan that you add. Since it contains a good amount of carbs from the lentils, you might find that you need a smaller portion of pasta.

Can you freeze it?

This recipe is the perfect contender for batch cooking and freezing. Defrost thoroughly before reheating. You can heat it on the hob or even in the microwave. Make sure it’s piping hot before serving.

It also lasts for up to 3 days in the fridge. So you can make it and eat a couple of times during the week.

Bolognese Red Lentil


If you don’t have any wine on hand then you can use vegetable stock instead.

Brown lentils also work instead of red.

If you are a fan of bolognese you can also check out my ultimate linguine bolognese (not vegetarian) or this fantastic spaghetti sausage puttanesca (you can easily leave out the sausage for a great vegetarian alternative).

Products that work great for this recipe

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Red Lentil Bolognese in Pan

Red Lentil Bolognese

  • Author: caroline
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1x


This red lentil bolognese delivers everything you would expect from this Italian classic – rich herby tomato sauce spooned over steaming pasta and topped with some tangy parmesan cheese.

The default recipe serves one.


  • 1/4 onion, diced (around 40 g)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 carrot, diced (around 50 g)
  • 1/2 stick celery, diced (around 25 g)
  • 25ml red wine
  • 200g (7 oz) tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup (75 g) dried red lentils 
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 3 basil leaves, chopped
  • freshly shaved parmesan, to serve

Lentil Bolognese Ingredients


1. In a medium saucepan, add heat the olive oil over a medium heat. 

2. Add the carrot, celery and onion and cook for around 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and thyme and season well. Cook for a further minute.

Lentil Bolognese Step 1 Saute Vegetables

3. Add the red wine, chopped tomatoes and lentils and around 2-3 tbsp water per portion. Lower the heat slightly so it reaches a slight simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes. Add a little more water if it’s looking dry. 

Lentil Bolognese Step 2 Add lentils and tomatoes

4. Stir in the basil and serve over steaming spaghetti – yum! 


  1. Nutrition information does not include parmesan
  2. If you don’t have any red wine then use vegetable stock instead
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Hob
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 380
  • Fat: 7g
  • Carbohydrates: 55g
  • Protein: 44g

Keywords: pasta, dinner, italian, bolognese, vegetarian, vegan, lentils, tomato

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