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Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese

July 21, 2010

Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese

Growing up my Mum would cook versions of Spaghetti Bolognese all the time and it was one of my most favourite dinners. Coincidentally it was also one of the very first meals I managed to cook successfully after moving out of home.

In Australia Spaghetti Bolognese, traditionally made with beef mince, is a dish you see everywhere. I have been making a vegan Bolognese using lentils for years and this recipe is for one of the simpler versions using tinned tomato soup (a Cam family tradition) for an effortless vegetarian pasta dish that is super filling and tasty.

To cut down the cooking time you could use tinned lentils instead of dried and the dish will be ready in half the time, however, you do get a lovely nutty texture using dried lentils that really adds to the dish. In saying that, if cooking for meat eaters I would increase the cooking time a little as a softer lentil is more reminiscent of mince traditionally used in Spaghetti Bolognese.

Tasty, filling, wonderful delicious and easy to make; serve this vegetarian Bolognese as a great family meal that everyone will enjoy : )

Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese

Preparation time: 45mins // Serves 4

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  • 300g (10.5 oz) wholemeal spaghetti
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1-2 chillies, diced
  • 1 red capsicum (bell pepper), diced
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, diced
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (I used a no animal content ‘beef’ stock)
  • 1 x 450ml (15 fl oz) can condensed tomato soup
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbs fresh herbs, thyme, oregano or parsley, roughly chopped

Cook the pasta to the packet instructions, strain, toss through olive oil and set aside.

Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy based frying pan. Add the onion and cook for 1-2 minutes over a medium heat until soft. Add the garlic and chilli, cook for a further minute then add the capsicum and mushrooms.

Cook over a medium heat until the mushrooms are soft, add the dried lentils and toss to combine.

Add the stock, tomato soup, tomato paste, bay leaves and brown sugar; bring to a gentle simmer and cook partly covered for 25-35 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water as need until the lentils are tender and sauce reduced.

Remove the bay leaves, add the fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss through the cooked spaghetti until warm and well combined. Serve as a great family main meal topped with vegan or vegetarian cheese if you like.

Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese

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  • Jennifer July 21, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Mmmmm… This looks incredible!! And I really like how you’ve added lentils to this!

  • tigerfish July 21, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    I so love this vegetarian version! thanks.

  • Nuts about food July 21, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    I love how you make classic meat-based recipes so enticing to non-vegetarians too. I will definitely try this!

  • Michele July 22, 2010 at 8:46 am

    This is a nice recipe for vegans (like myself). But for a true Bolognese, be sure to omit the red bell peppers. I grew up in Northern Italy and bell peppers are much more commonly used in Southern Italy. Otherwise, this looks really tasty!

  • Trudy (veggie num num) July 22, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Thanks Jennifer & Tigerfish for the lovely comments!!

    @Nuts about food ~ thanks so much and glad to hear it :) that’s what Veggie num num is all about!!

    @Michele ~ thanks for the great feedback on the recipe, I could imagine you ate the most amazing food growing up in Northern Italy :)

  • Nuts about food July 22, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    I made your chickpeas yesterday and posted the recipe (under your name). Delicious! I think I need to leave them in a touch longer, seeing your picture again today. They are not quite as brown!

  • Petra Peach July 22, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    This looks like one for my personal recipe book and I also like the sound of the veggie chilli.
    Please keep up the good work.

  • elsa July 25, 2010 at 2:54 am

    sounds yummy! I’ll have to give it a try!

  • Veggie Belly July 25, 2010 at 3:23 am

    I love the lentils here, besides the protein, they must add great texture to this dish. bookmarked!

  • kathy July 26, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Now I’m craving lentils…Your photos are beautiful!! I really hope you will submit this recipe and more to my new “vegan finds” site:


  • Trudy (veggie num num) July 26, 2010 at 10:54 am

    @Petra ~ so glad you like the recipes :) thank you!
    @elsa & Veggie Belly hope you try the bolognese soon and thanks for dropping in :)
    @Kathy ~ thanks so much and wow great vegan foodie site.. great idea and yes I would love to submit some recipes… cheers for the invite :)

  • Penny July 27, 2010 at 8:00 am

    This is such a great way to make a carb and meat-loaded dish so much healthier! I made it the other day for dinner when it was raining – the perfect comfort kind of food weather. I did make my own revisions to the recipe though, just one little change. Instead of making the lentils myself, I added Tasty Bite’s Madras Lentils to the sauce mix. The lentils have this great flavor and heartiness about them that went great with the original recipe. I definitely recommend trying this if you’re in a rush as well as checking out the rest of Tasty Bite’s meals, all of which are vegetarian. Thanks for the great recipe idea and bon appetit!

  • Petal August 4, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Made it and loved it! Thank you so much for sharing all your nummy recipes :)

  • Trudy (veggie num num) August 5, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Penny the lentils you used sound just right! And yes, pasta is like, one of the all time best comfort foods, isn’t it! Thanks for the great feedback :)

    Petal my absolute pleasure, so glad you loved it :)

  • Clare November 6, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    I made this tonight and it was so nice! Was in a rush so used canned lentils and used some thick organic tomato and mushroom sauce instead of the condensed soup but it turned out wonderfully. I’ve just discovered your site and I’m already in love with it! :)

  • Angela January 17, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    I made this last night using canned lentils instead of dried – and it was absolutely delicious! so much so infact, I have planned my weeks dinners using your recipes ! Thank-you so much!! :)

  • Trudy (veggie num num) January 20, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Oh thanks Clare, great to hear :) Cheers for the feedback, it’s always great to hear how others have prepared the recipes!!

    Thank you Angela, wonderful to hear you enjoyed the recipe and I hope you continue to enjoy lots of Veggie num num recipes in the future :)

  • Maxtillian January 21, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    I like the idea! I used this as a guide to try some new recipes! I try to avoid any “cans” replaced the soup for my own homegrown tomato sauce! This way there was no need for the sugar!
    Living here near the Mediteranean, try to grow as much fresh produce i can. Thanks for the recipe

    Love this site


  • Trudy (veggie num num) February 3, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Oh wow, lucky you Maxtillian, living near the Mediterranean!! Homegrown tomato sauce is a hundred times better than the tinned variety :) thanks for the great feedback and so very happy to hear you love the site, cheers!!

  • Sandy March 18, 2011 at 9:07 am

    Made this last night and my omnivore boyfriend loved it! ^_^ awesome recipe

  • Jacqueline April 25, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    This is a great recipe! I have to go and buy the ingredients again ^.^

  • Andrea November 15, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Wow this looks amazing! I’m new to your site but so excited to start trying out veggie dishes. Thanks so much!!

  • Michelle September 13, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Just made this tonight for my daughter and I. First vegetarian meal and we both loved it.