Meat-free mushroom and lentil bolognese

Jill Dupleix
Vegetarian bolognese, no plant-based mince required.
Vegetarian bolognese, no plant-based mince required. Photo: William Meppem

This vegetarian "bolognese" uses the protein hit of lentils and umami blast of mushrooms, miso and soy to make it just as satisfying as the traditional variety.


5 dried shiitake mushrooms

300g fresh shiitake or swiss brown mushrooms

3 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely diced

2 celery stalks, finely diced

125ml white or red wine (check vegan if required)

2 garlic cloves, grated

400g cooked lentils

400g canned tomatoes, chopped

1 tbsp tomato paste

sea salt and black pepper

400ml vegetable stock

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tbsp miso paste

1 tbsp soy sauce

pasta, black pepper, cheese (or vegan cheese) and olive oil to serve


1. Soak dried mushrooms in one cup of boiling water for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving soaking liquid, and finely dice, discarding stems. Trim the fresh mushrooms and finely dice.

2. Heat the oil in a heavy frypan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and fry, stirring, for five minutes. Add fresh mushrooms and garlic and cook for another five minutes. Add the wine and bring to the boil.

3. Add the dried mushrooms, lentils, tomatoes, tomato paste, sea salt, pepper, stock,  reserved mushroom soaking liquid and oregano and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

4. Add the miso paste and soy sauce, stirring well, and cook for 15 minutes or until sweet and stewy, adding more stock if needed, or bringing to the boil to thicken.

5. Serve with pasta of your choice, adding a grating of black pepper and cheese and a drizzle of oil.