Lentil Bolognaise with Parmesan, Basil and Pine Nuts

Lentil bolognaise makes a great vegetarian alternative to regular bolognaise that even meat-eaters will love.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Course Main
Servings 4
Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Kid Friendly


Lentil bolognaise

  • 1 brown onion finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 carrots peeled and grated
  • 1 celery stalk finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano chopped (or use 1-2 teaspoons dried oregano)
  • ½ cup red wine
  • ½ cup red split lentils
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 400g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1-2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce gluten-free if required
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup sliced pitted olives
  • 400 g pappardelle pasta fresh or dried, or can use spaghetti, linguine, or fettuccine, gluten-free if required


  • 4-5 handfuls salad leaves e.g. baby spinach, baby kale, rocket, watercress
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese finely grated or shaved (omit for dairy-free)
  • drizzle extra-virgin olive oil
  • drizzle balsamic vinegar

To serve

  • ¼ cup pine nuts toasted*
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese finely grated or shaved (omit for dairy-free)


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.
  • Heat a drizzle of oil in a large fry-pan on medium heat. Cook onion, garlic, carrots, celery and oregano for 6–7 minutes, until softened. Add wine and simmer for 1 minute, until nearly all evaporated.
  • Stir through lentils, tomato paste, tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, salt and water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for about 25 minutes until lentils are soft. Stir through olives and season to taste with salt and pepper. If mixture dries out at any time, stir through ¼–½ cup water.
  • While sauce is cooking, prepare salad. Toss with salad leaves and parmesan in a medium bowl. Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar just before serving.
  • When sauce has nearly finished cooking, cook pasta in pot of boiling water according to packet instructions, until just tender. Drain, return to pot and drizzle with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
  • To serve, divide pasta between plates and spoon over lentil bolognaise sauce. Sprinkle over pine nuts, basil and parmesan. Serve salad on the side.
  • Toast pine nuts in a small, dry fry-pan on medium heat for 1–2 minutes, until golden. Shake pan regularly to avoid burning.


Make this lentil bolognaise sauce in advance and simply heat and toss through pasta for an easy, quick dinner. You could even freeze the sauce in portions.
Use gluten-free pasta and soy sauce for this recipe to make it gluten-free, and simply omit the Parmesan for dairy-free.
This recipe is from the latest My Food Bag cookbook – Dinnertime Goodness. Packed with over 85 delicious, easy and nourishing recipes that the whole family will enjoy, this book is sure to become a household go-to.