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Vegetarian Bolognese

Vegetarian Bolognese

A deliciously rich and tasty vegetarian bolognese. Perfect veggie comfort food.
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian, Vegetarian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 158kcal


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion (220g) finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot (200g) peeled then finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery finely chopped
  • 4 fat cloves of garlic minced
  • ½ tbsp dried oregano
  • 250 g chestnut mushrooms (4 US cups) wiped clean then sliced
  • 25 g dried porcini mushrooms (approx ¼ US cup)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper (180g) pith and seeds removed then chopped
  • 250 g cooked Puy lentils (3 ⅓ US cups) I used pre-cooked lentils
  • 1 400g can of chopped tomatoes/diced tomatoes (14.5oz can US)
  • 300 ml passata (1 ⅓ US cup) tomato puree in the US
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar optional
  • 1 ½ tsp soy sauce more if you want it
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 or 7 sprigs of thyme
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • grated vegetarian parmesan style cheese and basil leaves for serving


  • Add the porcini mushrooms to a small bowl, cover with just boiled water and leave to soften for about 30 minutes.
  • Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and cook for about 20 minutes over a medium heat, until the onion is soft.
    Then add the carrot, celery, garlic and oregano and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add the chestnut mushrooms and bell pepper to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes then add the passata and the can of chopped tomatoes.
    Pour about half a cup of tap water into the passata jar or can, give it a little swirl then add to the pan.
  • Now stir in the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and drop in the bay leaves and sprigs of thyme.
    Drain the porcini mushrooms, reserving 3 tablespoons of the water. Add that mushroom water to the pan.
  • Finely chop the porcini mushrooms then add them to the pan. 
    Add the salt and pepper, stir well then reduce the heat to low and leave to simmer for about 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Finally add the lentils then simmer again for 5 minutes.
    Check the seasoning now.
    The sauce should be nice and thick. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs before serving.
    Serve with spaghetti or linguine, some grated vegetarian parmesan-style cheese and basil leaves.


  • Mushrooms - I use chestnut/brown mushrooms but you can use white mushrooms if you need to. The dried mushrooms should be soaked in warm water before adding to the dish.
  • Pasta - We serve this with linguine but spaghetti, tagliatelle or other pasta shapes will work well with this too.
  • Keep it vegan - If you want to keep this vegan use a vegan Italian style hard cheese.
  • Make it gluten-free - To make this dish gluten-free, use tamari instead of soy sauce.
  • Storing/Reheating/Freezing - Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge and will keep for up to 3 days. Reheat it on the hob until hot. To freeze, leave the sauce to cool, transfer to freezer containers then keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight before heating on the hob.
  • Nutritional Information - is approximate and is calculated using an online tool. It is based on one serving of bolognese sauce without pasta or parmesan.
  • Measurements - I weigh all my ingredients using an electric scale, all measurements are metric. Cup measurements are approximate.


Calories: 158kcal | Carbohydrates: 26.5g | Protein: 8.5g | Fat: 3.5g | Saturated Fat: 0.5g | Sodium: 253mg | Potassium: 487mg | Fiber: 7.4g | Sugar: 5.1g | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 3mg