Slow cooker green lentil vegan spaghetti Bolognese is perfect for those busy days when you need an easily prepared family meal that is full of flavour and nutrition.
Based on the classic Bolognese sauce this dish features green lentils cooked in a deliciously flavoured tomato based sauce full of fresh veggies.
Serve with whole-wheat spaghetti or your favourite pasta shape, and finish off with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast flakes or shredded vegan cheese.
So simple yet good enough for a dinner party! Especially when served with garlic or crusty bread and a nice, big crisp salad.
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Brief History Of Traditional Bolognese
Ragu alla Bolognese is the Italian term for Bolognese sauce and the dish is claimed to originate or at least be inspired by the Italian city of Bologna. A Ragu is at its essence simply meat slow cooked in a tomato sauce, and traditionally served with tagliatelle noodles. A recipe for Bolognese sauce has been found in an Italian cookbook dated back to 1891.
Even though spaghetti pasta is not traditionally Italian it is certainly the type of pasta most associated with Bolognese in modern times. Some argue that Italian immigrants to the US or even Britain during the early twentieth century may have developed the authentic Ragu alla Bolognese into the more modern spaghetti Bolognese that is a very popular family meal today.
Vegan Lentil Bolognese
I have replaced the traditional beef mince that is commonly used to prepare Ragu or Bolognese sauce, with green lentils. Green lentils are amazingly nutritious and hold up really well in the slow cooker as they tend to retain a pleasant bite and do not dissolve into the sauce.
Another benefit is that lentils do not need to be pre-soaked before cooking.
Green lentils are added to the slow cooker along with bell peppers, diced carrot, onions, garlic, and celery, tomato sauce, vegan stock and flavourings. Everything is mixed well and cooked on high for 4 hours.
The aromas of cooking Bolognese are wonderful and the beauty of the slow cooker or crock pot is that the flavours become trapped in the pot due to the lid, and the slow cooker deepens the flavours.
This lentil Bolognese sauce is perfect for batch prepping so if you have a bigger slow cooker and the available freezer space it is worth preparing more portions. Besides everything tastes better the next day, or when frozen a few months later!
How To Prepare Vegan Green Lentil Spaghetti Bolognese In The Slow Cooker
Recipe Notes And FAQS
Store leftover Bolognese sauce in a covered container in the fridge for 3 days.
Or freeze in a freezer proof container for up to 4 months. Defrost before use.
Leftover spaghetti can also be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. Either separately or mixed through the sauce.
Reheat leftovers by placing in a skillet or pan, and gently bring to a simmer, stir frequently and heat for 3-4 minutes until piping hot. A little extra veggie stock may be needed as the lentils will continue to soak up the liquid as it sits in the fridge.
If you have some leftover spaghetti, add the spaghetti to the Bolognese sauce to reheat or pour boiling water over the spaghetti by either placing spaghetti in a sieve and pouring. Or briefly immense the spaghetti in boiling water and then drain.
A few ideas:
* use small amounts of leftovers to top a carrot hot-dog
* use to fill a baked potato/or as a filling for loaded potato skins. Finish off with some grated vegan cheese and grill or bake until hot and melted.
* make stuffed bell peppers/courgettes/aubergines/large tomatoes
* top leftovers with mashed potato and make little shepherd/cottage pies. If you just have small amount of leftovers then create a few individual pies using ramekins or individual pie dishes. Once cooked these can be well wrapped and frozen for up to 4 months.
* Prepare a Bolognese sloppy joe. Scoop the sauce into a soft or crusty roll and top with your usual burger toppings, if liked.
* use as part of a burrito filling
* have a Bolognese toastie/grilled cheese sandwich
* simply reheat and enjoy over a slice of your favourite toasted bread for next days lunch
* if you have a large amount of leftovers then use it as a lasagne filling
* vegan garlic bread or herb bread
* 3 ingredient quick dinner rolls
* vegan French baguettes
* vegan focaccia
* large mixed salad
* fresh herbs such as chopped parsley, basil or chives
* sliced spring/green onions
* fresh diced or sliced tomatoes
* roast tomatoes
* grated/shredded vegan cheese
A few suggestions:
* The tomato/Mariana pasta sauce can be subbed for 1 500g package (2 cups) of passata or 2 tins of chopped tomatoes. Use a variety that has added herbs, for extra flavour, if available.
* use either fresh bell pepper, any colour, or frozen mixed bell peppers
* add 1/2-1 diced courgette or aubergine/eggplant instead of bell peppers
* the diced carrot can be subbed for diced sweet potato
* sub the fresh onion for 2-3 tsp of onion powder
* sub the fresh garlic for 2-3 tsp of garlic powder, or use garlic puree/easy garlic
* use regular soy sauce instead of tamari
* add some fresh basil to garnish or mix through the cooked Bolognese sauce
* add some cherry tomatoes at the beginning of cooking or roast some tomatoes and mix through the sauce before serving
This recipe can be made gluten-free if a gluten-free variety of spaghetti or pasta is used, and all the flavourings, stock and tomato based sauce are all gluten-free. Also use tamari soy sauce instead of regular, as tamari is generally gluten-free.
Of course. This recipe is fine for vegans so is also great for vegetarians.
Yes. However, I would precook the green lentils before proceeding with the recipe.
Cook the lentils according to the package instructions and then add the lentils to the rest of the ingredients and stew for around 30 minutes. Add extra veggie stock when needed if the sauce becomes too thick.
Alternatively use 2 cans (400g/14-15oz) of cooked green or brown lentils.
Variation: The onions and garlic can be cooked in one tablespoon of olive oil, before adding the rest of the ingredients. Or sautéed in 1/2 cup of veggie stock before the rest of the ingredients are added.
Slow Cooker Green Lentil Spaghetti Bolognese
- Slow cooker/crock-pot (at least 3-3.5 litres/ 3-4 quarts)
- Saucepan, for cooking spaghetti, optional
- 250 g green lentils dried
- 100 g celery 2 sticks/ribs, diced
- 230 g carrot 2 medium, diced
- 200 g bell pepper about 1 large, diced. Or use mixed frozen pepper slices.
- 150 g onion 1 small, diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced or fine diced. Or 1 tsp dried garlic
- 500 g jar pasta sauce Any flavour of vegan-friendly pasta or Mariana sauce. Alternatively use a carton of passata (500g/2 cups) or 2 tins (x2 400g/14-15oz ) chopped tomatoes (varieties with added herbs are ideal). If passata or plain chopped tomatoes are used add 1 tsp of sugar to the slow cooker)
- 1 tbsp tomato puree paste
- 1 tbsp dried mixed herbs
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp tamari soya sauce or regular soya sauce
- 250 ml vegan stock I used 250ml water plus 1 tsp of vegan 'beef' flavour stock powder. (Additionally If using plain chopped tomatoes/passata then add 1/2-1 stock cube to the Bolognese or a few teaspoons of stock powder or paste.)
- 300 g spaghetti pasta use wholemeal variety if possible, or gluten-free or regular.
- 4 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes to sprinkle 1 tbsp over each serving or mix through each serving
- Switch your slow cooker to the high setting.
- Add all the ingredients, except spaghetti and nutritional yeast flakes.(if plain passata or chopped tomatoes are used in stead of the jar of pasta/Mariana sauce, also add 1 tsp of sugar, and 1/2-1 vegan stock cube or 2-3 tsp stock powder/paste)Mix well.
- Pop the lid on and leave for 4 hours.
- Prepare the spaghetti according to the packet instructions before the Bolognese sauce is ready.
- Check the Bolognese seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.
- Serve with spaghetti, and one tablespoon of nutritional yeast flakes sprinkled over each portion. Or grated/shredded vegan cheese.
- This recipe uses the high temperature setting of the slow cooker and it generally takes 4 hours for the lentils and veggies to soften. For longer cooking times select medium and cook for around 5-6 hours, or low and cook for 6-8 hours. Exact cooking times will depend of your own brand of slow cooker or crockpot.
- Nutritional info is provided for guidance only and is not a strict calculation as ingredients vary. Data is calculated using computerized nutritional apps.
- Nutrition data includes 4 tbsp of nutritional yeast flakes and 300g dried whole-wheat spaghetti pasta.
- For a lower sodium meal use low-salt vegan stock.
- Leftover Bolognese will keep fresh in the fridge for 3 days. Or freeze for up to 4 months. Use fridge or freezer-proof containers.
- Leftover spaghetti will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Reheat leftover Bolognese by heating in a skillet or pan until piping hot. Add a little extra veggie stock to loosen up the sauce as the lentils will likely continue to soak up the liquid.
- Reheat leftover spaghetti by pouring boiling water over or sit in a pot of boiling water for a minute, drain and serve.
- Serve Bolognese with garlic bread, crusty bread, side salad, and/or spaghetti/tagliatelle or other pasta shapes.
- Leftovers are really tasty, reheated and served simply over a slice of your favourite toast, for next days lunch.
If you enjoyed this spaghetti Bolognese with green lentils try my other quick Bolognese prepared with tempeh, ready in just 45 minutes or less.