This Vegetarian Bolognese recipe is just about as easy as it gets. I call it my “lazy vegan bolognese” because I use a jar of prepared marinara sauce to make it on busy weeknights, when I need to get dinner on the table fast!
Using red lentils in this recipe adds an excellent source of plant-based protein to each serving, while also keeping this whole meal as fast as possible. (Red lentils cook faster than other lentil varieties.)
I throw this meal together in our Instant Pot at least once a week. It’s kid-friendly (my 1-year-old loves it!) and takes practically no time to prepare. Simply dump the three ingredients into the pot, press a button, and walk away until it’s ready.
(If you don’t have an Instant Pot, scroll down to the bottom of this post for stove top directions.)
When you serve this sauce over spiralized zucchini noodles, you don’t even have to cook the pasta. I find that they wilt just enough to be tender, without becoming watery, when you add the piping hot sauce over the top.
If you prefer a slightly more tender pasta, you can quickly sauté the zucchini noodles over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or serve this sauce over your favorite high-quality pasta instead.
I hope you’ll enjoy it the next time you need a quick meal!
Instant Vegetarian Bolognese
- 1 (25 ounce) jar marinara sauce (no sugar added)
- 3/4 cup red lentils
- 1/2 cup water
- salt & pepper , to taste
- Spiralized zucchini "noodles" or cooked pasta, for serving
- Combine the marinara sauce, lentils, and water in the bowl of your electric pressure cooker and stir well.
- Secure the lid and turn the vent to "seal." Using the manual button, adjust the machine to cook on high pressure for 5 minutes.
- Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then carefully turn the vent at the top to release the rest of the pressure. (It's okay if you let the pressure naturally release all the way, too.) Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve warm, over spiralized zucchini noodles or your favorite pasta.
- Leftover sauce can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. For best texture, I recommend storing leftover zucchini noodles separately, so they don't get watery when reheated.
Per Serving: Calories: 119, Carbohydrates: 20g, Fiber: 10g, Protein: 8g
Stove Top Directions:
If you don’t have an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker, simply combine the ingredients in a large saucepan over high heat. Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower the heat and cover until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Adjust any seasoning to taste, then serve warm over your favorite pasta.
- Be sure to read the label of your store-bought marinara sauce. My favorite is the Fat-Free Organic Marinara Sauce from Whole Foods’ 365 Brand, but this jar from Muir Glen also has no added sugar and looks like a good option. If you’d prefer to make your own sauce from scratch, try the recipe in my first cookbook, Everyday Detox.
- If you need to avoid nightshades, try this tomato-less marinara sauce recipe instead.
- If you substitute another type of lentil, you might have to add more cooking time to this recipe.
- Feel free to dress up this recipe however you see fit! Sometimes I’ll add some extra veggies into the mix, like shredded carrots or cauliflower rice, and I like to season with a touch of salt and pepper at the end to make the flavors pop. For some spice, you might want to add a pinch of red pepper flakes, too.
As always, if you modify this recipe please leave a comment below letting us know what worked for you so we can all benefit from your experience.
Reader Feedback: What’s your go-to weeknight dinner? Any more Instant Pot recipe requests?