Lentil Bolognese


  • 0.5 oz (14 grams) dried porcini mushrooms & boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, fine dice
  • 1 small stick celery, fine dice
  • 1 small-medium carrot, fine dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons thyme leaves, minced (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 5.5 oz (162 ml) can tomato paste
  • 19 oz (561 ml) can lentils, drained and rinsed
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups prepared marinara sauce
  • 1 cup reserved porcini soaking water
  • 2 teaspoons Tamari soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar (see notes)
  • ⅓ cup non-dairy “creamer” or rich milk (see notes)
  • 12-14 oz (340-396 grams) dry rigatoni pasta
  • chopped flat leaf parsley, for serving (optional)


  1. Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl. Cover them with boiling water and set aside for 30 minutes. Once rehydrated, drain the mushrooms (reserving the water). Finely mince the mushrooms and set aside.
  2. Get a pot of boiling water going for your pasta.
  3. Heat a braiser-style pot or deep skillet over medium heat. Once the pot is hot, add the olive oil and swirl around. Add the shallots, celery, and carrot all at once. Stir and sauté until vegetables are very tender and slightly caramelized, about 8-10 minutes. Lower the heat if they are browning too fast.
  4. Add the garlic, smoked paprika, bay leaf, and thyme to the pot and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute.
  5. Add the tomato paste to the pot and stir often for about 2-3 minutes, until the tomato paste has slightly darkened in colour. Add the drained lentils and chopped porcini mushrooms, and stir. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Add the marinara sauce and porcini soaking liquid to the pot and stir. Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes with a lid partially covering the pot. Check in and stir up the sauce here and there. While this is happening, start cooking your pasta—cook according to package directions minus 2 minutes (pasta is finished in the sauce)
  7. After the 10 minute simmer, add the Tamari and balsamic vinegar to the lentil bolognese sauce and stir. Add the non-dairy creamer and stir. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning if necessary. Fish out the bay leaf.
  8. Keep the sauce on a simmer while you add the mostly cooked pasta. Bring the sauce and pasta back up to a simmer and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Serve the bolognese hot with chopped parsley if you like.


  • Don’t forget to reserve 1 cup of the porcini soaking water.
  • It’s really important to cook out the tin-y flavour of the tomato paste as much as possible (without burning it haha)
  • Prepared marinara gives us deep flavour in a short amount of time with this bolognese. My preferred brand is Rao’s.
  • I use a syrupy aged balsamic vinegar here. If you’re using a regular balsamic vinegar that’s more fluid, I recommend also adding a teaspoon of sugar at the same time.
  • Since most traditional bolognese recipes incorporate whole milk, I like to use an unsweetened non-dairy creamer here at the end for richness. Some of the richer milk options such as soy, cashew, or oat will work in a pinch. You can also blend ¼ cup soaked and drained cashews with ¾ cup water for a homemade option that will taste great.
Tags: plat_principal