Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
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.
Recipe type: Main dish
Serves: 4
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, diced, about 1 cup
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 4 cups chopped cremini mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
  • ½ cup walnuts, finely crushed*
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14-ounce) can of lentils, drained
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage, more to taste
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, optional
  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • 1 cup sliced fresh basil, optional
  • pecorino cheese, optional
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts*
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • red pepper flakes for serving, optional
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced 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 soy sauce and stir to incorporate. Add the diced tomatoes, lentils, tomato paste, sage and fresh cherry tomatoes, if using, and stir.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. If the sauce is very thick, add water, ⅓ cup at a time, to thin. 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. Stir in the fresh basil and a shaving of pecorino cheese, if using. Serve with more basil, cheese, the toasted pine nuts and a few pinches of red pepper flakes if desired.
*If you are avoiding nuts, you can skip the walnuts and pine nuts and the recipe will still be delicious.

Vegan option: skip the cheese.
Recipe by Love and Lemons at