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Image of several plates of lentil bolognese with spaghetti on a light pink surface. Two of the plates have forks stuck in the spaghetti.
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5 from 3 votes

Store Cupboard Lentil Bolognese (vegan & gluten-free)

A hearty, protein-rich pasta sauce that can be made completely from store cupboard essentials. This Lentil Bolognese is ideal for when you don't have fresh ingredients on hand.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: gluten-free, healthy, Italian, vegan
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 4 people


  • 1 medium onion, diced (can be omitted or subbed for onion powder if you don't have fresh)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed (can be omitted or subbed for garlic powder if you don't have fresh)
  • 1 796ml can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoon dried mixed herbs
  • 1 cup red lentils (you can use green lentils if preferred, the sauce will just need to cook for longer)
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  • 1 large carrot, diced


  • Pour 2 tablespoon water into a large saucepan, and steam fry the onion in this water for 5 minutes on a medium-high heat (with the lid on), stirring, until it softens.
  • Add the garlic and cook for one more minute with the lid off, stirring frequently.
  • Add the tomatoes, herbs, lentils and carrot (if using) to the pan. Crumble the stock cube into it and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • If your lentils weren't soaked, you'll need to add ½ cup water to the pan at this point. As the bolognese cooks, add more water as needed if you find the lentils soak it all up and the sauce gets dry.
  • Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20-35 minutes stirring occasionally, until the lentils become soft and cooked (the time this takes will depend on whether they've been soaked or not).
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, remove from the heat and serve the bolognese over your favourite spaghetti.


Soak the lentils - This recipe is really easy, but one of my favourite tips to make it even easier is to soak the lentils. I like to soak mine for 2-3 hours before using them, as it makes them easier to digest and faster to cook. I highly recommend trying it if you haven't before!
Fresh Ingredients - Feel free to omit any of the fresh ingredients from this recipe if you don't have them on-hand right now. You can replace the onion and garlic with onion and garlic powder if you have them, and the carrot is totally optional. Go with what you have!
Dried Herbs - In addition, feel free to use any dried herbs that you have. You could try using basil, oregano or rosemary if you don't have mixed. Enjoy making this sauce your own and get creative with what you have in your cupboards at the moment. :)