Pic of Mushroom and lentil bolognese

Mushroom and lentil bolognese

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Vegetarian mains

Mushroom and lentil bolognese

Main Serves 4 1h
The mushrooms and lentils in this vegetarian version of a Bolognese sauce have a rich umami (savoury) flavour. We've enhanced it with some vegetarian Worcester sauce and red wine.

Cook's notes

Wiping your mushrooms clean with a damp piece of kitchen paper or cloth stops them from turning slimy. If you want to make a dressing for your lettuce, the basic ratio is 3 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar (white or cider), 1 teaspoon mustard, with a little salt and pepper. Whisk or shake in a jam jar. Taste; it should be quite punchy, as it gets diluted once tossed with the salad. Use just enough to coat the leaves, the rest will keep.


  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery sticks
  • oil for frying, e.g. vegetable or sunflower
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 400g mushrooms
  • 100g dried dark green lentils
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 150ml red wine
  • 2 tbsp vegetarian Worcester sauce
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp mixed herbs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 400g spelt spaghetti
  • 50g Italian-style cheese, grated
  • 1 lettuce
  • salt and pepper


Prep time: 10 min
Cooking time: 50 min
  • Step 1

    Peel the onions and carrots. Wash the celery stalks, then finely dice all three veg. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large, deep frying pan. Add the onions, carrots and celery and fry on a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring now and then to stop them catching. Add a splash of water if it looks like they might catch.
  • Step 2

    Meanwhile, peel and finely chop, grate, or crush 3-4 garlic cloves. Wipe the mushrooms clean, then slice. Rinse the lentils in a sieve under cold running water, then drain them. After 15 minutes, add the garlic, mushrooms, mixed herbs and bay leaves to the onion mixture. Increase the heat slightly and stir for 2 minutes. Add the tomato purée. Stir for 1 minute.
  • Step 3

    Add the wine and Worcester sauce. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add the lentils and tinned tomatoes. Refill 1 tin with water and pour that in too. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or so, stirring now and then and topping up with a little water if needed; the lentils will absorb some of the liquid as they cook. You want to end up with tender lentils and a fairly wet sauce to coat the pasta.
  • Step 4

    Once the sauce starts to simmer, put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Wash some of the lettuce leaves, as many as you'd like, and shake dry. When the pan of water starts to boil, add the spaghetti to the pan. Boil for about 9 minutes, until tender. Keep the mushroom sauce simmering. Once the spaghetti is cooked (tender but still with a little bite), drain and toss in a drizzle of good olive oil to stop it sticking together. Keep to one side until the lentil and mushroom sauce is ready.
  • Step 5

    Once the lentils are tender, toss the pasta with the sauce. Gently heat for a few moments to warm the pasta. Serve sprinkled with the grated cheese, with the lettuce leaves on the side, tossed in a little salad dressing if you like (see cook's note).

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