Spaghetti Bolognese

You’ll love this fresh take on spaghetti bolognese. It’s filled with a hearty mixture of mushrooms, lentils, walnuts, and aromatic veggies.

Have you seen those lists of the new 2015 trends? You know, the ones that go around the internet this time of year predicting everything from the popularity of coconut oil to the color of pale pink we’ll all be wearing in the spring? One that’s caught my attention lately is that “they” are saying that staying in is the new going out. And I’m totally on board with that. If you’ve had a busy holiday season how good does this sound: Stretchy pants, spaghetti bolognese, wine, and a nice dinner by the fire with twinkly Christmas tree lights in the background?

What is spaghetti bolognese?

I’m calling this a spaghetti bolognese, although I realize that Italian grandmothers are shaking their heads right about now. In traditional spaghetti bolognese, pasta is topped with a tomato sauce made of aromatic vegetables, red wine, and a mix of beef and pork. While this bolognese sauce is not exactly authentic, it’s equally delicious, made with a hearty mix of mushrooms and lentils that get all stewy with onions, carrots, tomatoes, and rosemary, among other savory ingredients.

This vegetarian spaghetti bolognese is a delicious, lighter take on the Italian classic. Along with the traditional aromatic vegetables, I use walnuts, lentils, and mushrooms to make the hearty sauce.


  1. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  2. ½ yellow onion, diced, about 1 cup
  3. 1 medium carrot, diced
  4. 4 cups chopped cremini mushrooms
  5. 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
  6. ½ cup walnuts, crushed
  7. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  8. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  9. 1 tablespoon tamari
  10. 1 14-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  11. 1 1/2 cups cooked brown or green lentils*
  12. 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  13. 1 teaspoon dried sage
  14. 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  15. 8 ounces spaghetti
  16. 1 cup sliced fresh basil, optional
  17. ½ cup toasted pine nuts
  18. red pepper flakes
  19. shaved pecorino cheese, skip if vegan
  20. Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and pinches of salt and pepper and cook until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, another pinch of salt, and cook until soft, stirring only occasionally, about 8 more minutes.
  2. Stir in the rosemary. Push everything to one side of the pan to make room for the walnuts. Add the crushed walnuts and toast them for about 30 seconds, then stir everything together. Stir in the garlic, then add the balsamic vinegar and tamari and stir to incorporate. Add the tomatoes, lentils, tomato paste, sage and fresh cherry tomatoes, and stir.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the sauce thickens. Season to taste.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to the instructions on the package, cooking until al dente. Drain and add the pasta to the pan with the sauce.
  5. Serve with fresh basil, pine nuts, pinches of red pepper flakes and pecorino cheese, if desired.

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