This rich lentil ragù is cooked with red wine, herbs and mushrooms until thick and glossy. Perfect with pasta, and ideal for freezing.
🍴 Why you will love this recipe
A ragù is an Italian thick tomato-based sauce traditionally served with pasta. It would usually be made with meat, but this lentil version is just as good. Packed with flavour, rich, deep and savoury, and nutritious too!
This lentil ragù is perfect for serving with pasta, but could also be paired with rice or green vegetables or salad.
Lentils are really good for you (see this BBC article about their health benefits), and great for the planet too. I use tinned lentils a lot in my recipes as they are so quick, easy and cheap, such as my Vegan Moussaka and Vegan Hotpot.
📝 What you need
Tinned lentils form the bulk of this rich ragù - they are cheap, nutritious and easy to find in supermarkets, what's not to love?! Either green or brown tinned lentils are ideal.
Red wine should be good enough to drink but not your most expensive bottle! A medium-bodied red will go well with these flavours – not too heavy but reasonably acidic. something like a Cabernet Sauvignon would be excellent. Do check labels to make sure it is vegan, or consult the brilliant Barnivore app.
Passata gives a thick, tomatoe-y base to the ragù. If you don't have any to hand, a tin of chopped tomatoes would be fine instead.
Plant milk Use an unsweetened plant milk - oat, nut or soya will all work well.
👩🏽🍳 How to make your lentil ragù
For a full, printable recipe with ingredients and detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this page 👇🏼 .
Peel and finely chop the red onion and carrot. Finely chop the mushrooms.
Gently fry the onion and carrot then add the mushrooms, smoked paprika and garlic.
Add the lentils and red wine and simmer, then add passata, tomato purée and dried herbs. Simmer for 12-14 minutes, then add dairy-free milk and nutmeg. Cook for a further 2 minutes then serve.
🔪 Top Tips & FAQs
You can stir fresh herbs through the finished lentil ragù to your own taste - parsley or basil are a great match, or finely chopped rosemary.
Spice it up by adding a chopped fresh red chilli to the sauce at the same time as the garlic, or half a teaspoon of dried crushed chillis along with the passata.
Adjust the consistency towards the end of cooking time - if the sauce is too dry add a splash of water, and if it is still too runny keep bubbling for another few minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, this freezes really well so is perfect to batch-cook and freeze in individual portions.
A flat, wide pasta shape like pappardelle or tagliatelle is perfect with this ragù, just check ingredients to make sure it is vegan as it can sometimes contain powdered egg. Spaghetti would also be ideal.
The easiest and cheapest alternative is to cook your own dried lentils. This article explains how to cook dried lentils - go for green, brown or puy lentils, not red which will turn too mushy for this sauce.
If you are looking for a ready-cooked alternative, you can buy pouches of pre-cooked lentils which would work well, though they do tend to be more expensive than tinned lentils.
Rich Lentil Ragù with red wine
- 1 red onion
- 1 carrot
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic or 1 teaspoon ready-chopped garlic / garlic paste
- 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 x 400g tins lentils or c.500g cooked green or brown lentils
- 180 ml red wine check it is vegan
- 500 g passata
- 2 tablespoon tomato purée
- pinch dried oregano or thyme optional
- 125 ml dairy-free milk
- nutmeg optional
- Peel and finely chop the onion and carrot. Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan or casserole and gently fry the onion and carrot for 3-4 minutes.
- Finely chop the mushrooms and add to the pan, along with the smoked paprika and crushed garlic. Stir and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Drain and rinse the lentils and add to the pan, then pour in the red wine. Turn up the heat and let it bubble for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the passata, tomato purée and dried herbs (if using) and season generously with salt and pepper. Simmer for 12-14 minutes until the sauce is thick and glossy.
- Stir through the dairy-free milk and grate in a little nutmeg. Simmer for a further 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as required, then serve.
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