This Mushroom and Lentil Ragu is a hearty vegetarian pasta sauce that will leave even the hungriest eaters satisfied. Serve this vegan ragu over your favorite noodles!
Let’s pretend it’s Meatless Monday, even though it’s Wednesday. I’m a big fan of meatless meals in general, and try to eat them at least once a week. While I’m generally pretty satisfied with a mushroom risotto or butternut squash noodles, all of these meals have to pass the “husband test.” This Mushroom & Lentil Ragu certainly did.
A sure sign that a meatless meal did not have enough substance? A few hours after dinner, Jeff sneaks off to the kitchen and returns with a handful of peanuts. And then does it again. And then maybe makes some popcorn. Usually by this point, my stomach is rumbling too, so I grab my own bowl of popcorn. That’s when I’ve realized that my vegetarian dinner clearly didn’t have enough substance to get us through until breakfast the next morning.
About this Mushroom & Lentil Ragu for pasta:
This Mushroom & Lentil Ragu is, without a doubt, the most satisfying meatless meal I have ever made. I think that both lentils and mushrooms have a quite “meaty” quality to them, and knew they would sub in for meat in a ragu pretty seamlessly. Sure enough, the lentils soaked up the flavors of garlic, tomatoes and spices, and the mushrooms added even more substance to this hearty sauce. Serve this Mushroom & Lentil Ragu over your favorite pasta for a filling vegetarian meal that will leave you satisfied all night!
The ingredients for this vegan ragu are found at your grocery store:
- green pepper
- red wine
- canned tomatoes
- herbs and spices
- spaghetti noodles
How do you make lentil ragu with mushrooms?
Like just about any pasta sauce, you’ll start by sauteeing aromatics (onions, garlic, carrot, bell pepper), plus mushrooms, in oil until they’re softened. Then, you’re going to hit the pot with a little bit of wine to “deglaze” the pan and get all of the crusty bits (flavor!) off of the bottom of the pot. Use a wooden spoon to help scrape these bits off as soon as the wine goes in.
Then, you’ll stir in the lentils, water, canned tomatoes, and herbs and spices. Bring it to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer and cook 25 minutes or until the lentils and mushrooms are soft enough for your liking.
What defines a ragu? Can you make it with lentils and mushrooms?
According to Miram-Webster, a ragu is “a hearty, seasoned Italian sauce of meat and tomatoes that is used chiefly in pasta dishes and that is typically made with ground beef, tomatoes, and finely chopped onions, celery, and carrots.”
So, is this sauce made with lentils and mushrooms instead of meat technically a ragu? Probably not. But is it delicious? Definitely yes.
Can you freeze lentil ragu?
The truth is, I’ve never tried freezing this sauce. It’s so delicious that my husband and I just eat it for dinner and then finish the leftovers for lunch the next day. However, I have been known to freeze lentil soup, and I know that the lentils break down a bit and become a little mushier than they once were when I thaw and re-heat the soup.
Since the lentils in this lentil ragu recipe are incorporated into a sauce, I don’t think it will matter much if the lentils break down a little bit more. So, I believe this recipe would be just fine thawed and reheated. However, if I do end up freezing a batch of this sauce, I’ll be sure to come back here and update you on how it went!
One of my family members hates mushrooms. Can I use something else?
Absolutely! Eggplant, zucchini or summer squash all work well in place of the mushrooms in this vegan ragu recipe. Substitute them in the same quantity directly into Step 1 the recipe.
Another option would be to use chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or any other type of bean in place of the mushrooms. I would recommend using canned (drained and rinsed) chickpeas and stirring them in in Step 3.
Can I leave out the wine?
Yes! No worries. Just use an equal amount of water to deglaze the pan in step 2, instead.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked through
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 1 box (16 ounces) spaghetti noodles
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Grated Parmesan cheese or vegan Parmesan-style cheese alternative, for serving (optional)
- In large saucepot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, garlic, carrot, bell pepper and onion. Cook until vegetables are very brown and soft, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add wine; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Use wooden spoon to scrape browned bits from bottom of pan.
- Stir in bay leaf, crushed tomatoes, water, lentils, oregano, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are tender, about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water, as needed, if ragu gets too thick. Remove bay leaf and stir in basil.
- Meanwhile, prepare spaghetti according to package directions.
- Serve ragu over spaghetti. Garnish with parsley and serve topped with Parmesan.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 268 Total Fat: 11g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 9mg Sodium: 374mg Carbohydrates: 31g Fiber: 8g Sugar: 5g Protein: 11g
MORE GREAT LENTIL RECIPES:
- Vegan Lentil Curry – a one pot meal!
- Warm Sautéed Apple & Lentil Salad – so good for lunch!
- Slow Cooker Lentil & Sausage Soup – set it and forget it.
- Lentil & Mushroom Stuffing – bookmark this for gluten-free Thanksgiving option!
- Lentil Burrito – an oldie but a goodie.
- Vegetarian Lentil Quinoa Meatballs from Allison’s Allspice
- Spinach and Lentil Sweet Potato Stew from SkinnyMs.