Spicy Lentil Bolognese

dressings & sauces mains recipes Mar 11, 2019

Though I eat a primarily plant-based diet, I’m by no means opposed to meat. High quality, organic, grass-fed red meat and poultry make regular appearances on my plate. But overall, as a society, we consume WAY more meat than is necessary for our bodies, and meat overshadows the other components of our diet, such as fruit, vegetables and healthy fats. For those looking to cut back on their own consumption, incorporating a couple of meatless meals into your week is a great way to begin.

One of my personal favorite meat alternatives? Lentils! These legumes are packed with protein and have a hearty texture that’s extremely reminiscent of ground meat. The added bonus is that they also lower cholesterol, promote heart and digestive health, increase energy and stabilize blood sugar.

This simple and hearty Spicy Lentil Bolognese is the perfect meat sauce alternative for Meatless Monday or any weeknight dinner. Here, I mixed my sauce with sautéed zucchini and butternut squash noodles for extra veggie goodness, but I’ve also used Banza Chickpea Penne for additional protein and more of a “real” pasta dinner feel. Any pasta of your choice works perfectly with this sauce, so use whatever you have on hand.

Plus, as you’ve probably caught on to by now, I tend to throw a little spice into most of my savory dishes. The red pepper flakes in this recipe add a boost of flavor, but add more or less heat depending on your personal preference.

Another factor that makes this meal so dang simple? Jarred tomato sauce. If you have the time to stew your own tomatoes and spices for a homemade version, more power to ya! I happened to pick up a jar of Rao’s Arrabbiata Sauce from Whole Foods and wasn’t disappointed. Any jarred variety is great, but make sure to check the ingredient list for unnecessary added sugar or preservatives. The more natural the ingredients, the better.

I’ve found that the flavor of the sauce only deepens and improves after a day or two in the fridge, so this is the perfect make-ahead, meal prep dish for the week. Packed with nutritious ingredients, this flavorful pasta sauce is something you’ll begin to look forward to for your next meatless meal!


 YIELDS6 Servings
 PREP TIME15 mins COOK TIME25 mins TOTAL TIME40 mins


  •  1  jar marinara sauce (I used Arrabbiata)
  •  1  package steamed lentils (or 1 cup dry lentils, cooked according to package's directions)
  •  1 cup chopped onion
  •  1 cup finely chopped carrots
  •  1 tsp red pepper flakes (can use more or less)
  •  salt & pepper to taste
  •  1 cup chicken stock, warmed
  •  1  lemon, juiced
  •  3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  •  1 cup fresh basil, julienned


Pour olive oil to a large sauté pan. Add chopped onion and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté until onions are translucent and begin to brown.
Add chopped carrots and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add steamed lentils and combine. Allow to cook for a few minutes until warmed through.
Pour in jarred marinara sauce, chicken stock, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, basil, salt and pepper. Mix to combine completely.
Allow to simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken and flavors will meld.
Pour over your favorite pasta or zoodles!

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