You won’t miss the meat in this recipe for spaghetti with vegetarian lentil bolognese. Extra hearty and totally veggie-filled, it is full of healthy comfort.
spaghetti with vegetarian lentil bolognese


My ancestors would not be pleased,

my brother is probably hyperventilating at just the thought,

and I’m pretty sure my mother is seriously considering the possibility that I was switched at birth.

But yes. I went there.


To be honest, posting this did give me pause, but not for obvious reasons.

Trashing up pretty much the most classic recipe in Italian history?

Whatevs, dude.


But sharing a PASTA recipe two days before New Years’s?



I’m sure someone will alert me to the fact that spaghetti is the devil’s work, but in my defense, it tastes so good!

Especially when smothered in a sauce so stuffed with veggie lentil fabulousness that you feel strangely compelled to faceplant into a bowl and eat your way out.


Lentils actually make for a great meat substitute – they mimic the texture of beef crumbles fairly well and add a certain earthy toothsome flair that makes you feel really good about every bite.

Plus they’re darn good for you in a high fiber low fat New Year’s diet-friendly kind of way.

Pasta and all.

If this is wrong, I don’t want to be right.


Spaghetti with Vegetarian Lentil Bolognese
You won't miss the meat in this recipe for spaghetti with vegetarian lentil bolognese. Extra hearty and totally veggie-filled, it is full of healthy comfort.
Yield: 6 servings
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 28 oz whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  1. In a medium pot, combine the lentils with enough water to cover them. Season the water with salt. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer, cooking until lentils are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the carrots, onion, bell pepper, garlic, thyme, oregano, and salt and black pepper, to taste. Saute until veggies are tender, about 6-8 minutes.
  3. Mix in the tomato paste and saute for another 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly, until the tomato paste has dissolved. Add the red wine, scraping up any bits sticking to the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer, cooking for 3-4 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by half.
  4. Add the whole peeled tomatoes to the pot, crushing the whole tomatoes with your hands as you add them in. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer, cooking for 10-15 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to break down. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Stir in the cooked lentils.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until tender, but still firm, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes. Strain and toss with the sauce. Serve topped with parmesan cheese.
An Eats Well With Others Original
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅙th of recipe

 For more veggie-filled pastas, check out these:

bucatini peperonata with toasted rosemary breadcrumbs

Bucatini Peperonata with Toasted Rosemary Breadcrumbs

creamy spinach spaghetti with roasted tomatoes

Creamy Spinach Spaghetti with Roasted Tomatoes

one-pot spaghetti with greek tea, feta, and kalamata olives

One-Pot Spaghetti with Greek Tea, Feta, and Kalamata Olives

From Around the Web:

Caramelized Shallot, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Pasta from How Sweet Eats

Creamy Roasted Garlic, Broccoli, and Leek Pasta from Veggie and the Beast

Brown Butter Pasta with Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts from Two Peas and Their Pod

Cheesy Kale and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Bake from Baker by Nature

Vegan Fettuccine Kalefredo from Oh My Veggies


spaghetti with vegetarian lentil bolognese
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64 Responses to Spaghetti with Vegetarian Lentil Bolognese

  1. I also thought lentils were traditional for NYE because they look like coins – and the Chinese eat noodles for New Year as a wish for longevity. SO I think this is a totally legitimate wish for prosperity and long life in 2015.

  2. Now that is a gorgeous bowl of pasta! I recently made lentil bolognese with red lentils (which was yum!) and now I’m dying to try your recipe. I think even my meat-loving hubby would love this. 🙂

  3. Johanna GGG says:

    oh I love this sort of sauce – we often add lentils – and I think maybe we should call spaghetti with lentil bolognaise spag lol instead of spag bol!

  4. I obviously see no shame here, Joanne. Although, didn’t you just get a spiralizer??? Bring out the zoodles!

  5. bellini says:

    I am ready to face plant right now. Bring on the carbs and the veggie Italian sauce!!!!!

  6. I am totally okay with you swapping in the lentils, love this idea!

  7. This pasta looks so pretty. I’ve seen recipes using lentils in pasta sauce before, but must say I was never very interested in them…. Yours looks great though and I’d definitely give it a try!

  8. Betty says:

    Lentil lover here- this looks amazing! 🙂

  9. I do love meat sauce, but I love lentils, too, and think this sounds like a great alternative. Yum!

  10. I want this in my life. EVERY DAY!! Gorgeous!!

  11. Zainab says:

    I am game for using lentils instead of beef!! The sauce sounds so good. Adding to my list for the week!

  12. This looks delicious! I adore lentils so this is perfect for me!

  13. I could eat this and be completely satisfied. Definitely wouldn’t miss the meat. Pinned!

  14. Lentils are a perfect alternative! Thanks for sharing!! Pinned!

  15. Classic bolognese is one of my fave things to eat. . and I’d say sharing a vegetarian lentil bolognese right before New Years is right on track. . we’re all thinking healthier and I’m definitely down with the meatless option. and dude, this looks freaking fabulous!! love this, Joanne!

  16. Your brother sounds like my hubby when I made lentil chili and he was all like “there’s no meat?!” but in the end we’re still married 🙂

  17. Oh, I just think this is genius! I’m always looking for new ways to use lentils. Happy new year to me!

  18. Julia says:

    I’m all about trashing up authentic recipes to give them a lil’ facelift, and lentils replacing meat is just all the genius in the world!! It’s fuh-reezing outside and I’m in need of some belly comfort, so I say your timing is perfect for this spaghetti swirl!!

  19. I made lentil bolognese last year and it was really delicious. Have to make some more soon. Thanks for sharing, Joanne. Happy New Year!

  20. Marci says:

    I already love this recipe and I haven’t even tried it yet. Thanks and happy new year!

  21. I saw you post this on instagram earlier this morning…is it bad that I wanted this for breakfast!? Love love love that this sauce is hearty AND vegetarian. 🙂
    Have a happy and healthy 2015, Joanne!!

  22. Heather says:

    I will never stop loving spaghetti… or really any kind of pasta. It is my weakness. This looks so tasty on this cold wintery day.

  23. I MUST say though lentils are the way to go for a meat sub in this dish! This would be one hearty-ass bowl of pasta! LOVE!

  24. Oh yum! Just made a huge batch of lentils last night – this would be an amazing use of them 🙂

  25. Sues says:

    I’m a meat eater, but love lentils and this sauce looks awesome!!

  26. Katie says:

    That looks like a perfect winter supper (maybe squeeze in a big bowl on New Years Eve to make those resolutions really count?!) congratulations on the wedding (better late than never!) I read with interest as I was travelling around – you looked fabulous and the day looked wonderful!

  27. This looks awesome! I’m saving this for the New Year!

  28. The lull between Christmas and NYE sounds like perfect pasta time to me! And I’ve always liked lentil bolognese better than the meat equivalent 😉

  29. Totally crushing on this sauce!! Oh my!

  30. Get away – Girl – even the brothers – yours and mine – couldn’t not like this sauce – we just won’t tell them about the lack of meat until after they have eaten:)

  31. Kate says:

    No one misses the meat in a marinara, so a delicious meatless bolognese doesn’t surprise me at all!

  32. Not crazy, sounds perfect!! I sub lentils for beef all the time. I love adding mushrooms to really fake out the kids.

  33. susan says:

    I noticed you salt the water at the beginning of cooking the lentils – I thought that would make them not cook (like beans). I could see how that might infuse the lentils with more flavor though – not a problem???

    • joanne says:

      To be honest, I’ve always salted the water when I cook dried lentils and beans and I’ve never had a problem with them not cooking. I suspect it’s an old wive’s tale that they don’t cook as well with salt in the water. I like to add it to give them a bit more flavor!

  34. Spaghetti is not the devil’s work! It is the best vehicle for passing healthy antioxidant loaded things into your face! Lentils are the perfect substitute for meat.

  35. I would happily swap the meat version of this for your lentil version – traditional Italian dish or not! I even like the carbs at New Year idea – nothing like a little measured rebellion to jump start the year!
    Happy New Year!

  36. Hotly Spiced says:

    This looks like a very comforting meal and yes, absolutely good for you. It actually looks incredibly like ‘the real thing’ too. Happy New Year to you and your husband xx

  37. rebecca says:

    this looks so good love lentils and bolognese cool combo, happy new year

  38. Lentils are supposed to bring good luck in the New Year so I think your post was perfect. I often cook pasta and lentils, they are a great combination and yours looks delicious. Wishing you a happy New Year. 🙂

  39. Amanda says:

    I LOVE recipes like this make comfort food a little more healthy!!!

  40. You are so right. Meat wouldn’t even enter my head eating this dish. What a keen idea with the lentils. I love lentils. Lots of good spices like a good sauce should have.

  41. Sippitysup says:

    Devils work. Hell no? GREG

  42. This pasta looks amazing! I could go for a big bowl of that right now!

  43. Pasta any day and every day works for me!

  44. Pasta is my true love and I adore this hearty & healthy sauce!

  45. Sarah says:

    Meatless pasta with lentils? Sounds delicious and healthy too ~ I love lentils. I usually use them to make soup, thanks for introducing me to lentils in pasta!

  46. Eileen says:

    You know, I see the term “trashing up” everywhere in foodblogland lately, but I think lentils are the opposite! They’re a delightful healthy protein infusion — who can argue with that? Especially in such a satisfying pasta!

  47. Courtney says:

    This looks so insanely good. I love lentils but never would’ve thought to use them in this way. Genius! I cannot wait to make this.

  48. I’m loving this veggie version of the Bolognese!!! Lentils are the in – things, what with the burst of nutrition they offer!!! I can’t wait to add this recipe to my healthy dinners’ list (New year’s resolutions 😉 😉 ) HAPPPPPPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU Joanne!!!!!! :*

  49. Teffy says:

    Joanne that veggie bolognese looks so so delicious!!
    I haven’t had spaghetti bolognese in what feels like forever, and it’s such a classic! I’m a huuge fan of lentils, so definitely don’t need telling twice to use them!

    {Teffy’s Perks} X

  50. […] post Spaghetti with Vegetarian Lentil Bolognese appeared first on Joanne Eats Well With […]

  51. Lara Natacha says:

    I made this today, and it was the best lentil bolognese I have ever made or tried! I love your blog! Don’t ever stop publishing these amazing recipes!

  52. This is such a great idea! I still need to try lentils!

  53. […] Vegetarian Lentil Bolognese from Eats Well With Others […]

  54. Meatless pasta sauce can be a little risky but this one is great! So filling and made great leftovers, thanks!

  55. Alex says:

    Great recipe!
    Just a few corrections from an italian girl though:
    this recipe is not blasphemous at all, in fact lentils and beans are eaten together with pasta traditionally all over Italy. ‘Pasta e fagioli’ is an example from the north of Italy, while ‘pasta e lenticchie’ is a typical sicilian recipe. Look it up! =)

  56. […] (3/19) – Spaghetti with Vegetarian lentil bolognese and homemade […]

  57. […] (3/30) – Veggie Lentil sauce over Penne pasta, salad and […]

  58. Claire says:

    Making this for the third time tonight. It’s become a go-to recipe! Only change I made is to cook lentils in chicken broth instead of water.

  59. […] on a grease splashed piece of paper-old), favorite recipe for that. That being said I saw Joanne’s gorgeous rendition of vegetarian lentil Bolognese, and I just had to try it. I made a few modifications because in our house Bolognese is Italian for […]

  60. Sarah-Beth says:

    I just found out that most wine isn’t vegan- could anyone recommend a substitute? (Egg whites and geletin are often used to filter impurities)

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