This cozy mushroom and lentil ragu will warm you from the inside out! It’s a vegan twist on ragu or bolognese sauce that’s filled with plant protein from lentils. Serve it over pasta for a comforting meal.
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I don’t know about where you are, but we woke up to a “feels like” temperature of -10 degrees this morning! Yesterday also brought frigid temperatures, which we happily endured for a couple of hours for a chance to have a drink with our friends on an outdoor patio.
It was definitely worth it, but I’m still not sure I’ve completely warmed up, even though the happy hour was almost 24 hours ago (ha!). Needless to say, I’m really craving warm comfort foods, which brings me to today’s Mushroom and Lentil Ragu.
As some of you may know, I’m 50% Italian, and I know a thing or two about making a killer “gravy” for pasta from my mom. Over the past few years, inspired by our family trip to Italy for my brother’s wedding, Will and I have also been getting into making our own pasta.
The first time we tried homemade pasta, we made an AMAZING bolognese sauce that was loaded with veggies, like carrots, celery, and onions, and simmered with Chianti wine. It was thick, delicious, and very flavorful, and it serves as the inspiration behind this veggie-loaded ragu that uses mushrooms and lentils instead of meat.
How to Make Mushroom and Lentil Ragu
- In a large pot, cook finely chopped onions, carrots, celery, and mushrooms until tender and very brown.
- Stir in some minced garlic and tomato paste, and cook for a few more minutes. Next, pour in the Chianti wine, using your spoon to “deglaze” the pot as needed.
- Add a can of tomatoes with their juices, broth, lentils, and all of the delicious seasonings.
- Bring to a boil, then let the ragu simmer for 25 to 35 minutes until the lentils are tender.
To make a perfect mushroom and lentil ragu, follow these tips. It’s important to choose the right kind of wine and to take your time preparing the veggies.
- Veggies: Be sure to cut the veggies into very small pieces. Part of the appeal of ragu and bolognese sauces is that they have finely diced veggies that are easy to eat and blend into the sauce.
- Lentils: I prefer using green lentils for this dish, but red lentils and other varieties also work. Depending on the kind you use, they may need more or less cooking time.
- Wine: I recommend using Chianti (or another kind of wine with Sangiovese grapes) or Merlot. These wines add a ton of flavor without making the final dish bitter.
- Serving: Of course, mushroom and lentil ragu is a perfect companion to pasta! Ragu/bolognese is often served over thick papperdelle noodles. You can also serve it over rigatoni (which I did) or really any type of pasta. I like to add a sprinkle of locatelli or parmesan cheese, but you can skip that if you want to keep the recipe vegan. Don’t forget a salad and some crunchy garlic bread on the side! PS – mashed potatoes make a delicious base for ragu too.
- Storage: This recipe makes about 4 to 6 servings, so you might have leftovers. Store the ragu in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave for about 1 to 2 minutes until warmed through.
More Healthy Pasta Dishes
Here are some of my other favorite pasta dishes: Canned San Marzano Tomato Sauce, Hidden Veg Pasta Sauce, One Pot Mushroom Spaghetti, and the One Pot Pumpkin Tomato Pasta. For more recipes with lentils, check out the Lentil Risotto with Collard Greens, BBQ Lentils with Shredded Carrots, or the Vegetarian French Onion Soup with Lentils.
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Mushroom and Lentil Ragu
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion - finely diced
- 1 carrot - trimmed and finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery - trimmed and finely chopped
- 12 ounces baby bella mushrooms - finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic - minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 cup Chianti wine - can sub Merlot or another Sangiovese variety
- 1/2 cup dried green lentils - can sub brown lentils
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes - with their juices
- 1 cup vegetable broth - more as needed
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper - to taste
- 2 cups pasta - for serving
- Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion, carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes until very tender and soft. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
- Stir in the minced garlic and tomato paste. Cook for a few more minutes before pouring in the red wine. Increase the heat to medium-high, and cook for 3 minutes. Use your spoon to "deglaze" the plan and scrape up any brown bits from the veggies as needed.
- Add the dry lentils, diced tomatoes with their juices, broth, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt. Season with pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 25 to 35 minutes until the lentils are tender. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed throughout the cooking time. The ragu should be thick and stew-like. Feel free to add more broth or water to thin it if desired.
- While the ragu is simmering, prepare pasta of your choice for serving. I like papperdelle or rigatoni. Sprinkle with locatelli or parmesan cheese (or a vegan alternative to keep it vegan) before serving, and enjoy with crunchy garlic bread and a salad.
- Be sure to chop the veggies into very small pieces for the best texture and even cooking.
- Leftovers can last for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes until warmed through.
Have a cozy weekend! – Lizzie