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Spaghetti with Lentil Bolognese

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Spaghetti with Lentil Bolognese

Spaghetti with Lentil Bolognese

Jessica Braider
I love the idea of making spaghetti sauce richer and healthier with lentils. This is a dish that is lovely the first night but gets even better with time. If you are feeling inspired you can sauté extra veggies with the onions and celery—consider carrots, fennel, garlic, or mushrooms. For a lighter option, serve the Bolognese over spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles instead of pasta.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 8 servings


  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped about 1 cup
  • 2 stalks celery halved lengthwise and thinly sliced about 2/3 cup
  • 12 oz. meatless crumbles or 1 lb. ground turkey or beef
  • 1 cup dried brown lentils rinsed (consider soaking the lentils all day or for at least 30 minutes to get them tender faster)
  • 26 oz. red pasta sauce (store-bought or homemade) see link for homemade directions, or use 28 oz. canned tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 16 oz. whole grain spaghetti (use wheat/gluten-free, if needed)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese optional


  • In a Dutch oven or a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat, and when it is hot, add the onions and celery and sauté them for about 5 minutes until they are translucent.
  • Add the meatless crumbles or meat and brown it for about 5 minutes, then stir in the lentils, pasta sauce, oregano, basil, salt, and vinegar, bring it to a boil, cover it, reduce the heat and simmer it for 30 – 45 minutes, stirring it occasionally, until the lentils are tender (check it after 20 minutes if you pre-soaked the lentils).
  • If the sauce gets too thick, add up to 1 cup of warm water or vegetable or chicken broth.
  • Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in salted water according to the package directions. Drain it and stir it into the sauce.
  • Serve immediately, topped with the cheese, if desired, or refrigerate it for up to 3 days, or freeze it for up to 3 months. (Note: if you plan to refrigerate or freeze the sauce, the texture of the spaghetti will be best if you wait to cook it until you are ready to serve it.)

Slow Cooker Directions

  • Omit the oil. Combine all ingredients except the spaghetti and cheese in the slow cooker, and cook on low for 8 - 10 hours (or all day) or on high for 4 - 5 hours. Serve the sauce over cooked spaghetti, topped with Parmesan cheese, if desired. (Slow cooker cooking times may vary—Get to know your slow cooker and, if necessary, adjust cooking times accordingly.)


Do Ahead or Delegate: Chop the onion, halve and slice the celery, soak the lentils (all day or overnight, if possible), combine the spices, prepare and refrigerate or freeze the sauce, cook the spaghetti and store tossed with a little oil to prevent sticking, grate the cheese if necessary and refrigerate.
Scramble Flavor Booster: Add 1 Tbsp. tomato paste with the pasta sauce, season the dish with freshly ground black pepper or with crushed red pepper flakes.
Tip: Want to make this recipe (and others during the week) come together faster? Spend a little time over the weekend chopping up the vegetables that you foresee needing for the week and stow them in the fridge. Then you’ll have them at the ready for your meal prep, lunches and even impromptu salads or omelets.
Nutritional Information Per Serving (% based upon daily values): Calories 285, Total Fat: 6g, 9%; Saturated Fat: 1g, 3.5%; Cholesterol: 2mg, 0.5%; Sodium: 605mg, 25%; Total Carbohydrate: 43g, 14.5%; Dietary Fiber: 14g, 53%; Sugar: 8g; Protein: 21g
Like this recipe? Check out The Scramble's family-friendly meal plans to see just how simple getting dinner on the table can be!
Keyword All, Dinner, Fall, Freezer-Friendly, Gluten-Free, High Fiber, Kid-Friendly, Kosher, Low Fat, Main Dish, Make-Ahead, No Added Sugar, Nut-Free, Slow Cooker, Spring, Summer, Vegan, Vegetarian, Winter
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