Bolognese Sauce


Preparation info

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This is a lovely alternative to meat-based bolognese sauce.

PREPARATION: 20 minutes
COOKING: 50 minutes


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for tossing
  • 1 onion, diced small
  • 1 carrot, diced small
  • 1 celery stalk, diced small
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 150 g ( oz) puy lentils or tiny blue-green lentils, rinsed
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) vegan red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (concentrated purée)
  • 1 x 400 g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes
  • 15 g (½ oz) miso paste (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
  • 1 chipotle (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 x 400 g (14 oz) tinned adzuki, borlotti or kidney beans, drained
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) vegan tagliatelle
  • fine sea salt
  • basil leaves, torn, to serve (optional)


Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the onion, carrot, celery and star anise until soft and starting to caramelise, about 10 minutes. Don’t shortcut this step as cooking the vegetables slowly is important. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes more.

Stir in the lentils, then add the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a spoon as it bubbles up. Add the tomato paste and stir over a medium heat until the wine has evaporated and the paste starts to smell fragrant.

Add the tomatoes, miso paste (if using) and salt. Stir. Don’t worry that this seems like a lot of salt as lentils and beans require hefty seasoning. Tuck the chipotle (if using) and bay leaves into the sauce. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Add more water if the mixture starts drying out. Stir occasionally.

When the lentils are cooked, add the beans and gently simmer to warm through. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water following the packet directions. Drain, return to the pan and toss with a splash of olive oil. Set aside.

Remove the bay leaves, star anise and chipotle from the sauce. Add a couple of ladlefuls of sauce to the pasta and gently toss to coat. Serve the pasta into shallow bowls and spoon more sauce on top. Serve scattered with basil leaves (if using).