Walnut and Lentil Ragu

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Serves Enough for 8 people
Spaghetti Bolognese Plant-based

Where would we be without spaghetti bolognese and bolognese lasagna? It’s been, and still is an Italian staple and such a popular dish. It’s years since I enjoyed a bolognese pasta, until I created this plant-based alternative.

Who would have thought, mushrooms, lentils and walnuts would be such a great combination. This sauce is unbelievable. Your meat eating friends won’t even know the difference.  Mix through your favourite pasta.

Walnut and Lentil Ragu

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Serves Enough for 8 people
Spaghetti Bolognese Plant-based


  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 white onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup cooked french puy lentils
  • 3 1/2 cups tomato passata
  • 1 teaspoon italian herbs


  1. Place walnuts in high speed blender and blitz until it resembles a chunky crumb. Then add the mushrooms and blitz about six seconds on high speed.  You don’t want to over blend as it’s important to get some texture and crunch. Set aside.
  2. Chop the onion and garlic finely.
  3. Saute onion and garlic in pan with olive oil until translucent. 
  4. Add the mushroom and walnut mince to the garlic and onions and cook about 2 – 4 minutes, or until mushrooms start to soften.
  5. Add wine and salt and cook another four minutes.
  6. Add the cooked lentils and mix through.
  7. Pour in passata.
  8. Cook sauce on medium heat for approximately 30 minutes.  Check on the sauce as it cooks and stir so that it doesn’t stick to bottom of the saucepan.
  9. Toss through you favourite pasta.  I made home made traditional Umbrian pasta (that you see in this photo) but any pasta works, especially spaghetti or fettuccine and even gluten free options, which are plenty.

TIP: I like to use the passata in the glass jars for this sauce as it’s a deep rich tomato.  Don’t waste the sauce left in the bottle.  Add a bit of water, shake the bottle and then add to the sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

Traditional bolognese sauces often rely on meat for flavour and texture. How do mushrooms, lentils, and walnuts come together in this recipe to create a satisfying alternative?

In this vegan ragu, mushrooms, lentils, and walnuts work together to create a satisfying and flavourful alternative to traditional meat-based bolognese sauce. The mushrooms provide a meaty texture and an umami-rich flavour that mimics the savory quality of meat. Walnuts add a hearty and slightly crunchy element to the sauce while contributing a nutty richness. Cooked lentils offer protein and a soft, comforting texture. When combined, these ingredients create a well-balanced sauce that is both hearty and delicious, making it a satisfying substitute for meat.

Can you describe the significance of white wine in this recipe and how it enhances the flavour of the ragu?

White wine plays a significant role in enhancing the flavour of this ragu. When added to the sautéed onion, garlic, and mushroom-walnut mixture, the wine helps deglaze the pan and release flavourful compounds that have caramelized during cooking. This process not only adds depth to the sauce but also contributes a pleasant acidity and complexity to the overall flavour profile. The wine's unique notes complement the other ingredients, making the ragu taste richer and more well-rounded.

The recipe calls for Italian herbs. Can you specify which herbs are included in this blend and how they contribute to the overall taste of the ragu?

Italian herbs typically include a blend of herbs commonly used in Italian cuisine. These may include basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram, among others. When added to the ragu, these herbs impart a harmonious combination of flavours, including earthy, aromatic, and slightly sweet notes. They enhance the sauce's overall taste by giving it an Italian-inspired herbal essence that pairs well with the other ingredients. This herb blend contributes to the ragu's robust and well-seasoned profile.

This ragu can be served with various types of pasta. Are there any specific pasta shapes or varieties that pair exceptionally well with this walnut and lentil ragu?

This walnut and lentil ragu pairs wonderfully with a variety of pasta shapes. Classic choices like spaghetti, fettuccine, or tagliatelle work beautifully, as they provide a substantial base for the rich sauce. Additionally, short pasta shapes like penne or rigatoni can capture the ragu, ensuring each bite is packed with flavour and texture. Ultimately, the choice of pasta comes down to personal preference, so feel free to use your favorite or experiment with different shapes to find your ideal combination.

Are there any recommended garnishes or toppings to enhance the presentation and taste of this vegan ragu?

While this ragu is delicious on its own, you can enhance its presentation and flavour with some optional garnishes. Freshly chopped herbs such as basil or parsley add a burst of freshness and vibrant colour. A sprinkle of vegan grated parmesan or nutritional yeast can provide a cheesy element. A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil just before serving can contribute a fruity and rich finish. These garnishes not only enhance the dish's appearance but also add additional layers of flavour to the ragu.