Healthy Recipe: Lentil Bolognese

Healthy recipe for lentil bolognese with spaghetti

Lentil Bolognese with Whole-Grain Spaghetti

Recipe by Ivy Manning | Photo by Erin Kunkel

You’ll never miss the meat in this veggie version of the classic and comforting pasta sauce. Just swap little green lentils for half or all of the ground beef. If you have a block of parmesan cheese, making shavings before serving is an easy trick. Using a sharp vegetable peeler, shave thin shards to garnish.


¾ cup (5 oz/155 g) petite French green lentils (also called lentils du Puy) or brown lentils
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 dried bay leaf
1/3 cup (½ oz/15 g) dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) boiling water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 large rib celery, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 can (28 oz/875 g) crushed tomatoes, preferably with basil
1 rind (about 2 inches/5 cm long) Parmesan cheese
½ lb (8 oz/250 g) whole-grain spaghetti
¼ cup (1 oz/30 g) shaved Parmesan cheese


In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the lentils with 3 cups (24 fl oz/750 ml) water, ½ teaspoon salt, and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until lentils are are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and discard the bay leaf.

While the lentils are cooking, make the tomato sauce. In a glass measuring cup, combine the dried mushrooms and boiling water and set aside to soften for 10 minutes. Finely chop the mushrooms and reserve the soaking liquid.

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, carrot, celery, oregano, and basil and sauté until tender, 8 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and stir until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the crushed tomatoes, chopped mushrooms, Parmesan rind, and mushroom soaking liquid to the pan, stopping before you get to any grit at the bottom of the measuring cup. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Add the drained lentils to the sauce whenever they’re ready, continuing to simmer until the flavors have blended and a thick sauce has formed. Discard the Parmesan rind and season the sauce with ¼ teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper.

When the sauce is nearly done, bring a large pot full of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package instructions. Drain the spaghetti, divide it among bowls, and top with the sauce. Sprinkle with the shaved Parmesan, grind with pepper, and serve warm.

Makes 4 servings
Serving size: about 1 cup sauce, 1 cup cooked pasta, a few slivers of cheese

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Calories 507
Protein 24 g
Total fat 10 g
Saturated fat 2 g
Carbs 86 g
Fiber 20 g
Total sugars 15 g
Added sugars 0 g
Sodium 426 mg

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