Lentil ragù

Prep: 15 mins Cook: 1 hr, 15 mins


Serves 6
Struggle to get your five-a-day? This superhealthy ragù will get you four steps closer and can be frozen for extra convenience

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable
  • Vegetarian
  • Healthy

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal662
  • fat9g
  • saturates1g
  • carbs120g
  • sugars14g
  • fibre10g
  • protein33g
  • salt1.05g
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  • 3 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 2 onions, finely chopped



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 3 carrot, finely chopped



    The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…

  • 3 celery sticks, finely chopped



    A collection of long, thick, juicy stalks around a central, tender heart, celery ranges in…

  • 3 garlic clove, crushed
  • 500g bag dried red lentils
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes



    A member of the nightshade family (along with aubergines, peppers and chillies), tomatoes are in…

  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tsp each dried oregano and thyme



    Closely related to marjoram, of which it is the wild equivalent, oregano has a coarser, more…

  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1l vegetable stock
  • 500g spaghetti, plus Parmesan or vegetarian cheese, grated, to serve


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook gently for 15-20 mins until everything is softened. Stir in the lentils, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, herbs and stock. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 40-50 mins until the lentils are tender and saucy – splash in water if you need. Season.

  2. If eating straight away, keep on a low heat while you cook the spaghetti, following pack instructions. Drain well, divide between pasta bowls or plates, spoon sauce over the top and grate over some cheese. Alternatively, cool the sauce and chill for up to 3 days. Or freeze for up to 3 months. Simply defrost portions overnight at room temperature, then reheat gently to serve.

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Comments (95)

starbright93's picture

Lovely. Mild and light but still hearty. The lentils break down to thicken the sauce, so it coats the pasta.

geetargal's picture

I used the full quantity of ingredients and wow - it's made loads! A super cheap, and healthy meal. I took the advice of other's and added 200ml red wine, and 1 tbsp of soy sauce, and it resulted in a real depth of flavour, close enough to match the meat version. I think next time I would halve the ingredients, and perhaps omit the celery for some chopped courgette.

studentcook146's picture

I used 250g of lentils, 1 can of chopped tomatoes ,600ml of stock, 1/2 chilli, excluded the celery and bay leaves and added 2tsp vinegar, 2 tsp soy sauce, 2 tsp lemon juice and 1/2 tsp sugar 5min before adding the stock and lentils etc. I would really recommend the last addition as it adds to the flavour massively! This made 4/5 portions.

furrypussy's picture

It was ok. Like a good homemade soup with spaghetti. Nothing like a meat bol. It can really only be as good as the stock you use. Will do again, but not for a month or so.

eblakemore's picture

Very tasty and great for baby led weaning too

catie74's picture

My 11 year old had to make a vegetarian alterative to bolognaise at school and he chose to make this. Not much came home but with him, but he was more than happy to make it again. He added a small glass of red wine at home. Lovely, and his younger brothers also loved it

staceymelia's picture

Absolutely lovely with a baked potato and a dollop of Greek yogurt on top.

veggie0517's picture

I make this recipe all the time and have made very few tweaks to the standard recipe. I usually make the same vegetable to half the lentils, stock and chopped tomatoes. I double it up for make 3 huge tupperwares worth plus dinner for two. Works well on its own, with rice or pasta.

nicolien22's picture

Very simple, very tasty!! Made a massive amount, the slosh of good wine made all the difference, I added in secretly as my man does not like wine. He loved it!!! I used fresh thyme from my garden, but dried is fine. Had to add more water along the way to get the right consistancy.
I froze two thirds of the yield. It is very filling, the perfect winter recipe! I will definatively make this again.

foodprocessor's picture

I halved the recipe and I still had some left over after serving five. I sprinkled each portion with nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan, to add the Vegan touch, and it tasted lovely!

foodprocessor's picture

I halved the recipe and I still had some left over after serving five. I sprinkled each portion with nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan for the Vegan touch and it tasted lovely!

donnab1981's picture

I chose this recipe for myself and my carnivore husband to try as we've started doing meat free Mondays and it was an absolute hit. Tasted just like bolognese and was lovely, warming comfort food.

The recipe quantities however are ridiculous. After reading comments, I used just 350g of lentils and I still got 6 absolutely massive portions ( 4 are going in the freezer).

sophiak123's picture

This is a great little recipe, quite basic with room for flexibility. The sort of recipe you can cook easily and without much effort with ingredients already in the house.

I generally use whatever and how many vegetables are around and adjust accordingly with amount of lentils & sauce quantity. One thing I would definitely recommend adding a healthy amount of red wine to lentils before adding tomatoes & stock (allow to absorb for a couple of minutes).

Chocolateraisins's picture

Halved the recipe and omitted the tomato puree as I didn't have any. I added red wine, soy sauce and paprika as was worried about it being bland. It looks unappealingly when you first start cooking but starts to resemble a meat ragu. I did find that the lentils dried up quickly so had to add extra fluid. Very tasty result and got 6 decent portions out of the halved recipe. Will definitely make again.

clough91's picture

Made half the recipe and it still made enough for 6 portions. I found a little bit of grated parmesan cheese hid the lentilly aftertaste and it tasted exactly like a normal bolognaise

LibrarianGoddess's picture

Very pleasantly surprised at how tasty this was (and how much it made!). I managed to forget to put garlic in - usually a staple for me - but added a tsp of blackstrap molasses, and the result was gorgeous. I also managed to make it in a too-small saucepan, so was only able to add .5 litre of stock - but still got 6 generous servings! Very happy with this recipe and it will be a regular on my menu plans now.

Bookcase101's picture

This went down well in my home. We had it over penne instead of spaghetti. I'm puzzled at some of the other comments saying it was bland, I didn't feel it was bland and it definitely doesn't need Worcestershire sauce! If you follow the quality of lentils then you will have a lots of leftovers. We had it on wraps for lunch the following day and froze some. Fantastic, more veggie recipes please

broadhaven's picture

Thought I was pushing it a bit with this recipe as OH is a definite meat eater and not keen on meatless teas. ( I used to be a vegetarian and try to do a meatless meal a week)
From my point of view I thought this was very good. I used 250g of lentils and one tin of toms and it has done 2 meals and 2 for my veggie daughter. I did add a chilli and chilli powder.

fairystoryteller's picture

Having read all the comments I knew to expect a large quantity but that suited my plan because I wanted to freeze portions for easy suppers. I followed the recipe but as others suggested, I added some smoked paprika at the same time as the herbs and then a squeeze of lemon juice at the end to lift the flavours. It got a thumbs up from the family served with spaghetti and a salad on the side. Next time though I might try it over penne - not sure spaghetti was the right choice. But I will make this again and I recommend it as a base recipe to tweak to suit your family's preferences.

CarlaS26's picture

This was lovely, really tasty and the texture worked really well. Only issue was the portion sizes, I read other comments before so didnt do the recommanded amount of lentils, but I wasnt sure really whether it would work. I used 100g of lentils and that was for 2 people i felt like it was plenty for 2 people. It took longer than expected for the lentils to cook, about an hour but maybe that was just a one off for us. Next time I will make more and freeze it.


Questions (3)

Cordelia Fox's picture

Hi I only have split red lentils, can I use them instead? Thanks

smmccarthy9175's picture

Can this be cooked in a slow cooker?

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi there, thanks for getting in touch. Yes, this recipe would work well in a slow cooker. Cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Best wishes, BBC Good Food team

Tips (3)

Crumpetred's picture

I made this last night for my family and boyfriend (first time cooking with lentils). Unfortunately, it wasn't for any of us. It was very earthy tasting, we added grated cheese on top to add some flavour.
The thyme and oregano helped but I would have put more in personally had I have known. Sorry :(
Glad we tried it though.

special_k's picture

Done this ragu a couple of times now & once made a lasagne with the ragu as have a few vegetarians in the family. I also add fennel seeds to the mix when sweating down my onions, carrot & celery, adds a nice flavour to it. I find serving with steamed veg in place of pasta is lighter meal as I find lentils really filling.