Lentil ragu

Lentil ragu

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(184 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins Cook: 1 hr, 15 mins


Serves 6

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

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable
  • Healthy
  • Vegetarian

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 carrots, 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 cloves, 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
  • parmesan or vegetarian cheese, grated, to serve



    Parmesan is a straw-coloured hard cheese with a natural yellow rind and rich, fruity flavour. It…


  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, questions and tips

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Frantic Flapjack
9th Sep, 2019
This was really lovely but there are far too many lentils in the recipe. I used 250g which was plenty. Use a good vegetable stock and the herbs are a must to get a good flavour. This recipe makes a lot of ragu but you can freeze it.
29th Aug, 2019
So disappointed. Made this recipe and it was almost inedible. So disgusting and bland. Such a waste of time and resources.
20th Jul, 2019
Cooked as directed by the recipe, it was OK, Won't be doing it again, I can't put my finger on why I didn't like this recipe I just didn't.
teeejaaay1's picture
14th May, 2019
Day 2 of becoming vegetarian, I cooked this tonight as per the recipe and loved it, I love lentils so used the 500g which was perfect for me, I tend to be heavy handed with pepper and salt, but this was delicious I would recommend it and I have a load to portion and freeze, result!
10th Mar, 2019
Made recipe as written. Bland and tasteless. Needed a huge amount of tomato puree and a few spoons of sugar to make it palatable. Far too many lentils. I won't be bothering with this again.
24th Nov, 2018
I used lots of extra veggies at the sauteing stage (courgette and bell peppers etc - will add aubergines and mushrooms too next time), and only had one can of tomatoes and one of passata. I don't use white onions or garlic (triggers for IBS) but a bunch of chopped spring onions and garlic flavoured oil. It was tasty and my 3yr old enjoyed it (he usually doesn't like lentils) so it was a winner for me, tho my hubby found it a little bland. I'll be making it again!
17th Sep, 2018
Delicious and plentiful. I used 300 gram mixed lentils - red split and puy - the texture was perfect. Thew in aubergine, peppers also and some dark chocolate grated. Will probably add some chili and beans to the batch in the freezer. A good sturdy recipe
11th Jul, 2018
I love recipe and make it a lot!
7th Mar, 2018
Quite bland. I made exactly as described (minus carrots cuz I didn't have any). It makes A LOT (8-10 servings) so it will last us a while!
3rd Mar, 2018
Definitely halve the quantity of lentils. This recipe is great just as it is, but can be modified in so many ways to make it different every time. Just about any type of vegetables can go in it and it can be served with almost any type of carb (pasta, crusty bread, potatoes, rice etc.) You can add spices to make it into more of a chili or curry, put cheese on top or Greek yoghurt... it never gets boring!


26th Feb, 2018
How do you cook in a slow cooker ?
goodfoodteam's picture
28th Feb, 2018
Thanks for your question. We haven't tested this recipe in the slow cooker so cannot give exact instructions. However you could transfer this to the slow cooker once all ingredients are added and cook for around 2 - 3 hours on High or 5 - 7 on Low. We'd suggest checking it the first time after the minimum cooking time.
5th Feb, 2018
Why do you suggest this can only be frozen for 3 months.
goodfoodteam's picture
6th Feb, 2018
Thanks for your question. If food is frozen for too long it oven gets 'freezer burn' where the texture and flavour deteriorate.
22nd May, 2017
I currently have this cooking in my slow cooker with 1L of stock in and are looking to have it in for 8hrs? What kind of consistency should the lentils have as I tried them half way through cooking and that still appeared to be pretty solid?
goodfoodteam's picture
23rd May, 2017
Thanks for your question. The lentils should be tender by the finished dish. If you're halfway through the cooking time on an 8-hour setting, we'd guess that all will be fine. Remember with a slow cooker not to keep taking off the lid as this can really increase the amount of cooking time needed.
28th Apr, 2017
662 calories per portion seems way off? Should me much lower.
goodfoodteam's picture
5th May, 2017
Thanks for pointing this out. The figure includes the spaghetti which was previously listed as a 'to serve' item and therefore didn't appear to be included in the nutritional figures. We've amended the recipe now. Apologies for the confusion.
Cordelia Fox
5th Sep, 2016
Hi I only have split red lentils, can I use them instead? Thanks
goodfoodteam's picture
5th May, 2017
Thanks for your question. Yes, these are the ones to use.


10th Jan, 2018
the quantities make A LOT of food, so think if you want that much, as a student cooking for myself, less than half (200g of lentils etc) made 4 large meals. Also, it's even nicer the day after!
28th Jul, 2016
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.
22nd Aug, 2014
Made this but didn't have carrots so added roasted herby mushrooms in at the end. Delicious. http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1039647/roasted-herby-mushrooms
11th Jan, 2014
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.
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