Lentil and mushroom bolognese

Lentil and mushroom bolognese

lentil and mushroom bolognese portion

It’s the time of the year again when we all start craving comfort food, don’t we? The evenings are cold, there is a wintery bite in the air, it’s raining more and more often and the air smells of smoke and dry leaves crushed underfoot. I personally really like autumn and everything it has to offer, with the exception of the dark clouds which tend to gather over our heads more often these days, threatening us with some serious rain.

As I am planning future recipes, I am instinctively drawn to pastas, stews, curries, cookies and cakes. Anything that makes the kitchen a cosy hangout again and warms you up after a run in the cold. Speaking of running, I love running in my local woods right now. The trees are starting to shed leaves, which rustle pleasantly under each step and there are plenty of cheeky little squirrels making a dash for it everywhere. They are such adorable twitchy little things, I don’t know how you could hate them.

My usually lovely and very kind neighbour has a bee in his bonnet about the need to exterminate grey squirrels, as according to him, they are pests. I usually tell him that humans are pests too, making far more damage to the Earth and its ecosystems than all of the tiny little nut munchers put together and that usually causes a welcome change of subject.

Today’s recipe is one of our favourite comfort eats – a hearty lentil and mushroom bolognese served with tagliatelle pasta and a generous sprinkle of my vegan parmesan. It’s easy to make (although it does require a fair amount of chopping) and if you have a large Dutch oven style pot and some space in the freezer, I recommend spending some of your weekend prepping a double portion of the sauce and freezing leftovers for the week ahead. Not only does the sauce taste better after some resting time, but it is also a life saver on the nights when you are too knackered to cook yet still want a warming and nourishing meal to tuck into.

lentil and mushroom bolognese ingredients chopped

lentil and mushroom bolognese

lentil and mushroom bolognese plate

30 min
90 min
30 min
90 min

  • 20 g / 0.7 oz dried shiitake or porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp / 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 2 short celery stalks, very finely diced
  • 2 small carrots, very finely diced
  • 125 g / 5 oz chestnut mushrooms, finely diced
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves chopped finely
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/3 tsp grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes, adjust to taste
  • approx. 1 tsp salt, adjust to taste
  • 1 cup / 240 ml vegan red wine
  • 2 x 400 g / 28 oz tins quality peeled plum tomatoes
  • 100 g / ½ cup dry Puy (or green) lentils, rinsed
  • 2 tsp date syrup or sugar (optional, adjust to taste)
  • black pepper, to taste


  • fresh thyme or parsley, to garnish
  • homemade vegan parmesan, to garnish (optional)
  • 500 g dry tagliatelle (GF if required), cooked
  1. Put a kettle on. Rinse the dried mushrooms well to get rid of any grit and place them in a small bowl.
  2. Cover the dried mushrooms with boiling water. Set aside for later.
  3. Heat up the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the diced onion and sauté on a low heat for a few minutes, until the onions are almost translucent, but not coloured.
  4. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.
  5. Finally add the diced celery, carrot and chestnut mushrooms. Sauté, stirring frequently, for another 5 minutes or so.
  6. Meanwhile, chop the re-hydrated dry mushrooms (do not throw the liquid away) very finely.
  7. Add the diced dry mushrooms to the pan, together with the chopped rosemary leaves, whole thyme springs, smoked paprika, nutmeg, chilli (if using) and 1 tsp of salt. Stir everything around for a minute or so.
  8. Add the dry mushroom stock, being careful not to tip the grit that sometimes gathers at the bottom of the dish over.
  9. After the mixture comes to a gentle simmer, add the wine and allow it to bubble gently for a few minutes so that the harsh taste of alcohol cooks out, for about 10 minutes.
  10. Add both tomato cans and about 1 cup (240 ml) of water (I like to rinse my cans with it first).
  11. If you used plum tomatoes, like I did, break them up with a spoon first. Put the lid on and allow the sauce to bubble on a low-medium heat until the tomatoes have broken down (about 30 minutes).
  12. Half way through the simmering, add the dry lentils into the pan (they take about 25 minutes to cook).
  13. Once the tomatoes have broken down, take the lid off and start reducing the sauce on a low-medium heat. If the pan is starting to look a bit too dry, add another cup of water (pasta cooking water is best) and cook until you achieve the desired consistency. Remember to give the sauce a good stir from time to time to ensure that the middle of the pan does not burn.
  14. Season with more salt if needed, date syrup or sugar (if needed) and black pepper.


10 g
6 g
1 g
15 g
80 g
*per serving
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15 reviews, 29 comments
I loved this. Wanted to try a lentil Bolognese for a while now and this recipe appealed to me most, as it seemed rich and a bit more complex. It was in fact really delicious! Very pleasantly surprised!
I used fresh shii take instead of dried, and tweaked the spices a bit according to what I had, otherwise I did everything as described.
    Thanks M, I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed this recipe so much despite your initial (self-professed) skepticism. I am delighted! And thank you for taking the time to write this lovely review - I really appreciate it. x Ania
this sauce was delicious, and the flat smelt wonderful too. I added in some sage as I had some to use up.
    Great to hear that you enjoyed it, sage sounds like a good addition. Thank you for letting me know that you enjoyed it! x Ania
Ian Lonsdale:
As a meat eater, I was pleasantly surprised at how nice this is. It will be going on the list of regular recipes!
    Thanks Ian, I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed this dish and plan to make it on a more regular basis! And many thanks for taking the time to review, I really appreciate it. Ania
Sarah B:
Great for a grey winter day! Delicious just a little too much chilli and smoked paprika for us (sadly I live with anti spicy/chilli parents!) but I will know for next time . . there will definitely be a next time : )
    Hi Sarah,
    Glad you enjoyed it as for the level of spice, it's always a good idea to go easy at first with a new recipe, especially if you don't like spicy food. Ania
You are so welcome! Sort I didn’t see where to rate the recipe at the bottom but I’d say it’s 5 stars!
    Aw thanks so much, that's so nice of you and you did it, the rating has come through. Ania
I loved this. Thank you so much! I didn’t have dried shitake mushrooms so I just chopped more fresh in addition to the chestnut mushrooms. I had a bit of umami spice ( from Trader Joe’s grocer in America ) so I added that into a cup of vegetable stock to make up for the mushroom water. I added a bay leave as well. I think next time I might throw the mushrooms in a food processor with a bit of firm tofu to create more of a crumble consistency to stick to the pasta a bit more. I chopped the onions small but I think i would make them even smaller next time and add more lentils. This was such a delicious dish I can’t wait to play more with it.
    Great to hear that you enjoyed it, Dayna and how fantastic that it sparked your creativity in the kitchen! Ania
We enjoyed this bolognese last night and I forgot to take a picture, but it was delicious. I did saute some tomato paste after the vegetables prior to adding any liquid as that's how I used to make a meat based version. I use my food processor to chop all the vegetables, mushrooms after the others to speed things up a little. I must remember to add fennel as one reviewer suggested. I've been a vegan 15 months and I've made several versions of this and this is my favorite. I don't even care for mushrooms, but they make this dish what it is and now I always keep dried ones on hand. Wish I could find chestnut mushrooms, but just used baby portabellas for the fresh ones. Thanks for a great recipe with easy to follow instructions for when you're in a hurry!
    My pleasure, Susan. I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed this recipe and fennel does sound like a great addition indeed. Ania
This is wonderful and full of flavor! I used white wine instead of red since it's what I had on hand, fresh creminis , added some tomato paste and fennel, and swapped the herbs to be dry. Beautiful flavors!
    I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed this dish, Kim and they all sound like great swaps/additions. x Ania
OMG! This is the best vegan Bolognese recipe I've ever tried! I've been Bethan for over a year now and tried many good recipes but the addition of dried mushroom and red wine just put this recipe at the top! I'm always sharing the recipe with family. Thanks!
    Aw, thank so much, Dominika. I am delighted to hear that and thank you for taking the time to let me know that you've enjoyed it so much! x Ania
Hi Ania,
Great recipe!
I was wondering roughly how calorific would one dish of the bolognese and spaghetti be?
    Hi Mack,
    I am sorry but I don't have any means of providing this information on the website. My rough guess is about 500 kCal, but if you want to be sure an online calorie calculator will do the maths for you. Ania
hi! I would love to make this recipe but my partner cannot have alcohol. is there something I could sub for this ?
    Hi Kris,
    Mushroom or veggie stock would be nice, but you can just also use water instead. There is plenty of other strong flavours in there. Ania
Lauren Phippin:
Hiya, just wondered if this recipe would freeze well?
    Hi Lauren,
    Yes, I am pretty confident it would! Ania
Gloria Günzler:
Just made this recipe and it is absolutely amazing! Left out the dried mushrooms, because I couldn’t find them and instead added some more fresh ones and also added some tomato paste at the end, but nevertheless it turned out great! Thank you so much for your inspiration!
    So glad to hear that, Gloria! Thanks for taking the time to let me know your thoughts on this dish. x Ania
This recipe looks amazing! I was just wondering if I left out the wine do you think it would make a bit difference to the dish? I'm not supposed to be drinking alcohol at the moment :(
    Hi Jen,
    Yes, absolutely. You can safely replace with veggie stock! Ania
I just made this for dinner this evening, and it was SO good! I added in a pepper as I needed to use one up, which turned out fine. Often when I make these sort of dishes I don't let them cook slowly, so this was a really nice reminder that allowing things to simmer away for a while is so worth it. Thank you!
    Thank you, I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed it so much. And yes, when it comes to stews, the slowly does it! Ania
Hi Ania,
I made your bolognese recipe and it’s the most delicious bolognese I’ve ever made or eaten. It has a wonderful depth of flavour.
The porcini mushrooms made all the difference. I’ll definitely be making this again.
All your recipes that I’ve made have been very tasty. Even the meat eater in my house thinks so too.
Thank you!
    Aw, thank you so much, Cindy! I'm delighted to hear that especially that not all meat-eaters are easy to please with vegan food ;) Ania
made this yesterday, it was delicious, thank you.
sweetened it at the end with a dessertspoon of molasses otherwise followed the recipe almost exactly - which is rare for me ...
this is one i think i'll be coming back to often
    Awesome to hear, Michael! And thanks for taking the time to review and rate the recipe - it really helps my blog grow! Cheers! Ania
Just made this tonight and it was delicious. I found that the dried mushrooms felt a bit chewy...even after all the soaking and the cooking. I think next time I’ll just leave them out and just add more mushrooms. I read that another follower added a bit of soy sauce at the end which I did as well and it was the perfect edition to just deepen the flavour. We’ve made so many of your recipes and I have yet to try one that we haven’t loved. Making your mushroom pulled tacos tomorrow as they are our absolute FAVORITE of all time. Xx
    Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it overall. Ania
I’ve just found this recipe in time for tonight’s tea and it smells amazing as it’s cooking. I’m so excited to taste it and have a look at your other recipes.
I had to use my kitchens available ingredients as it’s sunday evening so I’ve left out the dried mushrooms as that’s not something I keep in. Don’t think it’ll matter to much if the aromas anything to go by.
Many thanks for your hard work and for sharing this lovely recipe.
    My pleasure, I hope you have enjoyed the finished product! Ania
I stumbled upon your site as I searched for a vegetarian bolognese recipe...this one looked fab (I loved the idea of dried mushrooms to add depth of flavor!), so I tried it. Sooo good! It did take a while to prep everything, but I expected that. I served it over fettuccini for dinner, and even my meat-loving husband said it was fantastic. I just had some leftovers over rice, which worked quite nicely. The only tweak I made was to add a splash of sou sauce toward the end of cooking (I had also intended to add a couple of Tbs of tomato paste before adding the liquids, but I forgot). This recipe really is a keeper, and is delicious and satisfying in its own right (not just as a stand-in for what's usually a meat recipe). Well done - I look forward to trying more of you recipes :-)
    Yay!!! I'm delighted to hear that it went down so well and thanks for taking the time to leave such a lovely comment too! Much appreciated! Ania
Your photography brightens the dullest of days!
    Aw, thanks so much, Sally! You are always so kind! x Ania
Heidi Pollack:
Hi! I just wrote a comment but not sure if it worked since my internet went a little funny, so forgive me if this is a repeat. I just wanted to say I love your beautiful food photography and am looking forward to trying some of your recipes, but I had a question about this one.... It might be a dumb question, but can this be made without mushrooms? Every other part of the ingredient list sounds amazing, so unfortunately being the mushroom hater that I am, I'm wondering if mushrooms are key or can I sub them out or omit them? Thanks! xo
    Hi Heidi!
    Thank you for your kind words about my work. I would say that mushrooms are quite key for this particular recipe, but the overall taste isn't 'mushroomy', I promise - depends what you hate about them, I guess. If you prefer you could make this version instead. It features organic soy mince or you could make this recipe and replace mushrooms with crumbled tofu (smoky tofu would work best). Hope that helps! x Ania
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