A beautiful big batch vegan bolognese sauce made with red lentils and eggplant. Protein packed and high in fibre too, my Red Lentil Eggplant Bolognese is a nutritious and delicious topping for your favourite pasta! This recipe is gluten free, dairy free and nut free.
I think this is possibly the third bolognese sauce recipe I have put on Nourish Every Day, but this is the first totally VEGAN version, and it’s something a lot of you have been asking for!
One of my aims this year is to increase our family intake of legumes. There are so many great benefits to eating them – high protein, high fibre, cheap, easy to use, and environmentally friendly. We aren’t completely vegan or vegetarian, but I’m trying to be a bit more “flexitarian” in our approach to food (i.e. lots of vego meals with meat occasionally, rather than the other way round).
So, we have been in need of a vegan bolognese recipe as pasta night is a family staple. Hello, Red Lentil Eggplant Bolognese!
For this pasta sauce I chose to use red lentils, because they’re something I tend to always have in the cupboard. Red lentils are amazing because you can buy a bag of them dried, super duper cheap, and they cook in about 10-15 minutes and DO NOT need soaking. Just rinse, add water and cook and they go soft.
Red lentils are perfect for bulking up sauces, casseroles and curries, making your dish deliciously thick but not too chunky – these lentils are pretty small and very soft when cooked for a little extra time. All while adding a hefty boost of protein and fibre. In this recipe, they are the main protein in the sauce, so quite a large amount is used.
Now, just one little word of warning. This Red Lentil Eggplant Bolognese is a batch cooking recipe. It makes a helluva lot of sauce, I have estimated it makes about 6-8 serves, depending on how much you like to eat. Now that we are a family of four, almost everything I make tends to be a batch cooking recipe!
Assuming you don’t need a mountain of bolognese sauce at once, do not worry because this is the perfect thing to pop in the freezer. It will easily last a few months and then on those busy, exhausted nights, all you have to do is pop a pot of pasta onto boil.
If you make this recipe, don’t forget to take a snap and tag me on Instagram, you can find me at @moniquecormacknutrition!
- You will need a large stockpot, saucepan or even a big wok (with a lid) to make this recipe as it makes quite a lot of sauce.
- 1 large eggplant or 2 small eggplants
- 1 brown onion
- 1 large carrot or 2 small carrots
- 2-3 cloves garlic or 2-3 tsp of crushed garlic from a jar
- 1 and 1/3 cups red lentils measured dry/uncooked
- 700 grams passata (this is one standard size passata sauce bottle in Australian supermarkets, it's around 2.5-3 cups of sauce)
- 1 can cannellini beans i.e. white beans (one standard sized can)
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp tamari or gluten free soy sauce
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp dried Italian herb mix
- salt & pepper to season
- 1-2 cups water
- Prepare the vegetables and legumes. Finely dice the onion, grate the carrot and dice the eggplant into 1cm cubes. Rinse the red lentils and set aside.
- Heat a large pan/saucepan up to a moderate-high heat and add the 2 tbsp olive oil. Saute the eggplant, carrot and onion until the vegetables are well softened and starting to brown.
- Add the garlic and cook for a further minute until the garlic smells fragrant.
- Add the passata, cup of vegetable stock, tamari, dried herbs and the red lentils. Stir everything together and reduce the heat of the stove down to a simmer. Partially cover the pan with a lid.
- Cook the pasta sauce, stirring occasionally, at a simmer for at least 20 minutes, allowing the lentils to swell and soften. Keep the lid on the pan, slightly ajar. Add water to the pasta sauce as needed as the lentils cook (estimate you will need 1-2 cups of water).
- While the sauce is cooking, drain and rinse the canned cannellini beans. Towards the end of the cooking stir in the beans and then season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Done. Serve with your favourite pasta and a leafy green salad.
p.s. If you don’t mind a meaty (but still with veggies) bolognese now and then, check out my other two bolognese recipes here: