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Mushroom and Lentil 'Bolognese'

Mushroom and Lentil 'Bolognese' 6.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Gina Nistico for The Washington Post

Weeknight Vegetarian Nov 27, 2022

This hearty sauce gets its chunky texture and rich flavor from lentils and mushrooms (along with tomato paste and soy sauce for umami), with a little freshness from parsley. It’s great over pasta, as shown here, but you can also use it to top rice or other grains, or baked white or sweet potatoes.

Active time: 40 mins; Total time: 1 hour

Storage Notes: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days. The sauce can be frozen for up to 3 months.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6 servings; makes about 6 cups sauce

  • 1 1/4 cups Scrappy Vegetable Broth (see related recipe) or store-bought low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more as needed
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion (8 ounces), chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, scrubbed and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or light soy sauce
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • Two (15-ounce) cans green lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pound dried whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

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Pour the broth into a microwave-safe bowl or liquid measuring cup and microwave on HIGH until hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the dried mushrooms and soak for 10 minutes, then pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer to catch any grit. Rinse the mushrooms, squeeze out the extra water and chop them.

While the mushrooms are soaking, in a Dutch oven over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until it shimmers. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 8 to 10 minutes.

Pour in the mushroom broth and chopped mushrooms, and add the tomato paste and tamari, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer, then add the tomato puree and lentils. Return to a simmer and cook until the mixture thickens and the flavors have melded, 15 to 20 minutes.

While the lentil mixture is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until al dente according to the package instructions. Drain well.

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet over high heat, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil until it shimmers. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding the skillet, add a layer of mushrooms and let it cook without disturbing until lightly browned on one side, 1 minute. Flip the mushrooms and cook on the other side until lightly browned, 1 minute. Transfer the cooked mushrooms to the lentil mixture. Continue with the remaining mushrooms, adding 1 teaspoon of oil before frying each batch, and adding more oil as needed.

Stir the parsley into the sauce. Taste, and season with more salt as needed.

Add the spaghetti to the sauce and toss until thoroughly coated, and serve hot.

Recipe Source

Adapted from “How to Go Plant-Based” by Ella Mills (Mobius, 2022).

Tested by Joe Yonan.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (1 1/3 cup pasta and 1 cup sauce): 512

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 7g 11%

Saturated Fat: 1g 5%

Cholesterol: 0mg 0%

Sodium: 445mg 19%

Total Carbohydrates: 96g 32%

Dietary Fiber: 13g 52%

Sugar: 11g

Protein: 27g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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