I have tasted many variations of this dish during my time as a vegan. I know what a good one tastes like, and sadly, I also happen to know what a reallt bold one tastes like. (I’m looking at you Mr. just tomato sauce and lentils.) A good vegan bolognese should include other veggies for taste, some soy sauce or tamari for deepness & a lot of black pepper & herbs for spicyness. This recipe was born after one of those bad experiences… I tried a recipe from a new book that I bought the other day. I liked it, but I felt like something was just missing, you know? So I decided to stop following other recipes when making lentil bolognese & try mixing up the best of my experiences into one really good recipe. And to describe what this tastes like… SUCCESS!
This recipe does not only feature lentils, tomato sauce, onion, garlic and spices like some other recipes do. For veggioes I’ve also added mushrooms, some celery & carrot. The mushrooms make the taste deeper and more comforting & the carrots adds texture and natural sweetness. Celery… I actually don’t like it normally, but I’ve found that in some dishes it just adds that little extra… I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s neccesary.
For herbs & spices I went with safe cards. Oregano is one of my favorites and pares amazingly well with basil. I also used paprika powder, black pepper and salt to add more flavor. If you want to use other herbs I would suggest thyme and parsley, but be careful not to mix up to many herbs as it could get messy…
Also, in this recipe I suggest using a tittle bit of a agave syrup. This is to bring out the natural sweetness in the vegetables & make the taste less sour as canned tomatoes sometimes can taste a bit sour. If you can’t have sugar or don’t want to add sweetners to your food, it could be skipped but for best result I would recomend using it.
I served mine with zoodles (zucchini noodles). If you’ve lived in a Cave the last couple of years I am here to tell you that you make them by using a spiralizer and spiralize zucchini into long noodles. There are different types of spiralizers. Cheap plastic ones and fancier expensive ones. I own a cheap plastic one and I can tell you they work just fine. I Always thought zoodles was a weird dieting thing that would have no taste and be just… Weird. But then I tasted it and really liked it! Heh. Never judge a book by it’s cover I guess? Zoodles made the dish a bit lighter and more suitable for spring. But if you want to you could of course serve it to regular pasta with perfectly fine results!
If you are looking for more pasta recipes, be sure to check out one of my other favorites – Garlic Kale Pasta. And if you are looking for more ways to use up that zucchini you made zoodles with it could easily be added into curries like this one!
So, with Everything said I would like to introduce you to my new best friend – The best tasting vegan bolognese… Ever.
1/2 Onion, chopped
2 Garlic cloves, minced
2 White mushrooms, diced
60g Carrot, diced
40g Celery, diced
100g Uncooked red lentils
250ml Crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp Agave syrup
1 tsp Soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp Red wine vinegar
2ml Paprika powder
About one tsp of each basil & oregano
A splash of hot sauce, like srirascha
Black pepper & salt
Arugula or spinach
300g zoodles or pasta of choice
- Start by adding onion & garlic with some salt and pepper to a heated pan with some oil or water. Cook for about 3-5 minutes until the onion turns transparent.
- Add in the carrot and the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms look a bit brown and the carrot is softer. Then add in the celery and cook until softened. When soft, add in the herbs, paprika & agave syrup. Cook for a minute and then lower the heat and poor in the red wine vinegar & soy sauce/ tamari.
- Add crushed tomatoes and lentils with about 200ml of water. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Make sure to simmer, not boil as the lentils easily gets overcooked. You might need to add in more water after a while. Be sure to check that the lentils has water to expand in.
- When the lentils are tender, season with salt, pepper and more herbs if needed. Serve with pasta or zoodles and top with more herbs, black pepper & nutritional yeast.
If you try this recipe I would love to know! Tell me about it in the comments and I will be thrilled to read about your experience!