Vegan Lentil Bolognese with Cashew Parmesan

March 14, 2015
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Nearly this entire meal can be made with pantry ingredients, which makes it ideal for last-minute entertaining or for a weeknight supper. There's some simmering involved, but the recipe is simple to make, and the leftovers keep (and freeze) beautifully. The cashew Parmesan is an optional but tasty topper: Keep some handy for pasta dishes, for sprinkling on grain bowls, or even for topping roasted vegetables. —Gena Hamshaw

  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 47 minutes
  • Serves 6
  • For the vegan lentil bolognese:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 1 large rib celery, chopped
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup brown or green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 28-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 12 ounces penne or rigatoni pasta (or linguine, if you prefer)
  • For the cashew Parmesan:
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
In This Recipe
  1. For the vegan lentil bolognese:
  2. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Cook for 8 minutes, or until the onions are clear and all of the vegetables are soft.
  3. Add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are soft and have released some liquid and the garlic is fragrant.
  4. Add the lentils, tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, water, rosemary, thyme, and oregano to the pot, along with a dash of red pepper flakes and the salt. Stir the mixture well, and bring it to a boil. Reduce it to a simmer and cover. Cook for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are cooked through but not mushy. If the mixture becomes overly thick (if it's tough to stir and no liquid is visible at the bottom), add some water by the 1/4 cup. When the sauce is finished, stir in the fresh basil.
  5. When the sauce is fifteen minutes from being done, heat a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and toss it with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil.
  6. Divide the pasta into six serving bowls and top with the bolognese sauce. Serve with an extra sprinkle of basil and cashew Parmesan (see below), if desired.
  1. For the cashew Parmesan:
  2. Add all the ingredients to a food processor fitted with the S blade. Pulse repeatedly, until the cashews are broken down, and then process the mixture until it's taken on a crumbly texture (similar to the size of grated parmesan). Serve with any pasta dish.
  3. Stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container, the cashew Parmesan will keep for 2 weeks.

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Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.