Bolognese is a rich and satisfying dish, traditionally made with beef. If you’re looking for a vegan alternative, this is it! Here lentils stand in for the meat, and the base is made with CSA friendly celeriac mire poix. Celeriac is a surprisingly versatile root vegetable and one of my favorite ways to use it is to sub finely diced celeriac for celery. The flavor and texture are almost the same.
Bolognese is a great thing to make on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon – double or even triple the batch. You’ll have some to freeze and more than one meal for the coming week. Here the sauce is served over pasta, but it’s also great with polenta, and topped with freshly grated parmesan. You can add more herbs (like dried oregano or thyme), and I’ve skipped the basil when I only have parsley on hand. After a few times making this, you’ll come up with a twist of your own.
I like to use French lentils mostly because they cook quickly. I have to be honest, I usually prefer to cook lentils separately and then add them to a dish to ensure they are all the way cooked. I did simmer everything together this time, but next time I’ll cook the lentils separately.
Vegan Lentil Bolognese
1 cup French lentils, rinsed and sorted
2 cups water
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 onion, finely diced
1/2 cup celeriac, finely diced
1 cup carrots, finely diced
1/4 cup olive oil
4 – 5 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 – 28 oz can diced tomatoes
handful of parsley, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-low heat. Sauté the carrots, celeriac, onions, and garlic with a basil leaf and a few parsley leaves until softened, about 8 minutes.
Add the wine, and stir to scrape any bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring occassionally until the wine is reduced by half. Add the lentils, tomatoes, tomato paste, and water to the pot. Cover and simmer 45 – 50 minutes until lentils are soft. Stir every 15 minutes or so, and add liquid as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm over pasta or polenta.
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