Red Lentil Bolognese (VG/V/DF/GF*)

This meat-free Bolognese sauce is perfect over a bowl of pasta and topped with a handful of grated cheese. Allow 70 to 100g of dried pasta per person. I like to eat mine with some garlic bread as well, to mop up any leftover sauce.

Serves 2

1 onion
1 clove of garlic
1 carrot
1 tablespoon oil
a fistful of fresh thyme
a fistful of fresh parsley
1 vegetable stock cube
50ml red wine
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
100g dried brown or red lentils, rinsed
optional: 2 tablespoons tomato purée or tomato ketchup, to thicken the sauce
grated strong hard cheese, to serve

Peel and slice the onion, peel and crush the garlic, and put both into a large sauté or non-stick frying pan. Wash the carrot then grate into the pan and add the oil. Put on a low heat and fry gently, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.

Chop the herbs – I place mine in a tea cup and cut into them with kitchen scissors – then add to the carrot, onion and garlic in the pan.

When the onions are softened, crumble in the stock cube and add the wine, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée or ketchup, if using, and lentils. Stir in and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are al dente (I like them to have a bit of a bite). You may need to add a small teacup of water if the sauce looks too dry, but use your judgement.

Once the lentils are done, it’s ready to serve. As with any Bolognese, this is delicious topped with a grating of strong hard cheese.

Tips: You can use up any spare Bolognese mixture as a topping for Penny Pizzas. This is also good cold or reheated, stuffed in a pitta or wrap with some grated cheese for next day’s lunch.

‘Lentil Bolognese’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter/Instagram: @MxJackMonroe Facebook:


My new book, Cooking on a Bootstrap, is now available to order HERE.

This blog is free to those who need it, and always will be, but it does of course incur costs to run and keep it running. If you use it and benefit, enjoy it, and would like to keep it going, please consider popping something in the tip jar, and thankyou.


  1. Put in an ovenproof dish, top with mash, and you have the veggie classic of all time: lentil shepherd’s pie! I do mine with whole lentils for a little extra texture and I also add marmite and rosemary to the lentils for a bit of ‘meaty’ savouriness. Served with steamed garlicky cabbage, ’tis a feast fit for a king! ..Well, maybe a very poor vegan king anyway 🙂

  2. Some really great recipes here, but where do you get 20 pieces of veg for £1 in Sainsbury’s? I’ve been to stores across the UK and looked online and can’t find that anyway and they say they don’t stock such an item. Have I read ‘pcs’ incorrectly? I’m spending 3 times that on veg at the local market and even more again in Sainsbury’s.

  3. Hi Jack! Was wondering if you could put the Chickpea Tagine recipe that you made in that interview? I am in Spain and chickpeas are nice and cheap! I made the chilli dish tonight, delicious! I added some ginger I had in the fridge, yummy!

    • Hi Max, it’s the ‘not a tagine’ recipe on my blog. If you search that in the search bar it should come up – its still one of my fave recipes. Also do a chickpea falafel one that would translate to a burger too…

  4. Awesome…and you’re not kidding about having to add more liquid. I think i put in more during cooking than I did at the beginning! Chopped up some baby bok choy (discards. From thr vg market) and about a cup of diced smoked laeg of lamb (don’t hate me, I barter farmsitting for the met). Thanks for this, and thanks again for the “straight pride” post. You are wonderful!

  5. Hi Jack
    I have just tried this recipe, having found your site on The Guardian all the way from South Africa, and it is delicious.
    I’d also like to say how disgusted I was at some of the comments on the article that I read – they really show a complete lack of understanding about what you are trying to do. Many of the comments seem to presuppose that this is some kind of voluntary economy drive (look what I can do on 10 pounds a week!) as opposed to some helpful guidance for those who really cannot afford to spend more. For me, it also serves as an indication of how inventive you need to be, and how much more time and effort needs to go into thinking about something as simple as what your dinner will be, when you are one of the millions (billions?) of people whose food budget is minimal.
    I would suggest that anyone who is critical of your project should do some research about how much people have to spend on food internationally. Well done, and please don’t be discouraged by totally unfounded criticism.

  6. I make this to go over jacket potatoes, with a bit of grated cheese too, and it’s fantastic – cheap, healthy and tasty. My toddler loves it too, thanks 🙂

    • If you don’t have fresh herbs can you use dried? Thank you so much for your recipes they are wonderful (as I am financially in the sh*t with 6 mouths to feed!) cheers Jack x

  7. Loved this it’s absolutely delicious we added a green pepper & used the chopped tomatoes with basil in them & it will nowbe a regular on the menu. Thank you!

  8. We use this to stuff peppers with. I top each filled half pepper with a little grated cheese and breadcrumb mixture and bake for about 30 mins. Serve with rice. Fab.

  9. This was delicious! Once I boiled my pasta, I threw everything in a dish with a very small amount of strong cheddar and baked it for a few minutes. Absolutely lovely yet simple dish.

  10. Love this recipe! I’ve made it many times and so many people have asked for the recipe be they meateaters, veggie or vegan (omitting the cheese obv). This blog is a such a gem, and I just wish I’d discovered it in harder times. Keep up the fantastic work Jack! x

Leave a Reply