Pasta With Lentil Bolognese


by Deborah Mele

Lentils are used in place of meat in this heart healthy sauce making it a great option for “meatless Monday”. I live in Umbria, Italy six months a year where lentils are a staple in this region’s diet. This recipe is typical of “cucina povera”, or Italian peasant cooking, and the combination of the lentils and tomatoes creates a sauce with a deep, rich flavor. Despite being meatless, this sauce is so hearty that when tossed with pasta, it will please everyone in the family, and no one will even miss the meat. 

Lentils are a nutritional powerhouse and are high in fiber, are an excellent source of six important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein. Tomatoes are a source of vitamin A, vitamin C, dietary fiber and a great source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant.

 Pasta With Lentil Bolognese

Yield: Serves 6Prep Time: 10 minsCook Time: 1 hr


2 Tablespoons Olive oil

1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Onion

1/3 Cup Finely Chopped Carrot

1/3 Cup Finely Chopped Celery

4 Garlic Cloves, Minced

1 Cup Dry White Wine

1 1/2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste

2 (16 Ounce) Cans Chopped Tomatoes

1/3 Cup Finely Chopped Fresh Parsley

1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Fresh Basil

1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano

1 Cup Water

Salt And Pepper

1 1/3 Cups Small Green Or Beige Lentils

1 Pound Pasta of Choice

To Serve:

Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese


In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic.

Cook over medium low heat until the vegetables are soft and beginning to brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and wine and increase the heat to medium high.

Cook, stirring often until the wine has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, parsley, basil, oregano. water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium low and add the lentils.

Cook, stirring occasionally until the lentils are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes depending on the lentils used.

If the sauce begins to dry out, add additional water as needed.

Cook the pasta according to package instructions, then drain.

Toss the pasta with the sauce then serve immediately, offering grated cheese at the table.

 deborah meleDeborah Mele is a self-taught cook whose passion for Italian cuisine began over 40 years ago when she married into a large Italian family overflowing with talented cooks. After moving with her family to Milan, Italy where they resided for nearly a decade, she carefully developed and honed her culinary skills. Deborah created her blog, Italian Food Forever over 13 years ago to share her passion for simple, healthy, and delicious Italian recipes. Deborah now lives in Umbria, Italy 6 months each year where she and her husband rent a farmhouse to guests and give cooking classes.

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