Slow Cooker Lentil and Mushroom Bolognese

updated Sep 28, 2020
Slow Cooker Lentil and Mushroom Bolognese

In this "meaty" vegetarian alternative to classic bolognese, baby bella mushrooms and protein-packed green lentils stand in for ground beef.

Serves8

Prep15 minutes

Cook8 hours

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Vegetarian slow cooker lentil mushroom bolognese over bed of spaghetti
Credit: Photo: Joe LIngeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

If you’re craving a hearty plant-based pasta sauce, look no further than this lentil and mushroom slow cooker “Bolognese.” It’s a mega “meaty” vegetarian alternative to classic Bolognese, in which baby bella mushrooms and protein-packed green lentils stand in for ground beef. 

Besides being incredibly flavorful and filling, I think you’ll love how easy it is to make. Once the ingredients are in the slow cooker, there’s no additional stirring or fussing required. As it cooks, the sauce takes on a deep, rich flavor that can only come from all-day cooking. It’s a versatile dish you’ll make all fall and winter long.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Use a Food Processor to Cut Down on Prep

To really speed things up, I recommend chopping the veggies with a food processor. The mushrooms, celery, carrots, onion, and garlic all need to be roughly chopped into small pieces, so you can pulse them all together before adding to the slow cooker. While a standard-sized food processor works just fine, I impulse bought a mini food processor on a whim years ago and it’s now one of my most-used kitchen gadgets. 

Serving Lentil and Mushroom Bolognese

Bolognese sauce is traditionally served with tagliatelle or pappardelle pasta — the thicker noodles hold up to heavier sauces. That said, I like any long noodle that I can twirl around a fork. This bolognese is also great over zoodles, used as a filling for lasagna, or served with cauliflower gnocchi.

Slow Cooker Lentil and Mushroom Bolognese

In this "meaty" vegetarian alternative to classic bolognese, baby bella mushrooms and protein-packed green lentils stand in for ground beef.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 8 hours

Serves 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces

    baby bella or cremini mushrooms, finely chopped

  • 2

    celery stalks, finely chopped

  • 2

    carrots, finely chopped

  • 1

    small onion, finely chopped

  • 2

    garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 cup

    small dried green lentils

  • 1 cup

    vegetable broth

  • 1/2 cup

    red wine

  • 2 ounces

    tomato paste

  • 1 (28-ounce) can

    crushed tomatoes

  • 2

    bay leaves

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning

Instructions

  1. In your slow cooker insert, stir together the mushrooms, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, lentils, vegetable broth, red wine, tomato paste, tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Cover the cooker and cook on Low heat for 8 hours.

  2. Remove and discard the bay leaves.

  3. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.

  4. Refrigerate all leftovers in an airtight container or freeze for future use.

Recipe Notes

Excerpt from Slow Cook All Day: The Ultimate Cookbook of Hands-Off Slow Cooker Recipes, by Paula Jones, published by Rockridge Press. Copyright © 2020 by Callisto Media. All rights reserved.

Leftover tomato paste: If you're using tomato paste from a can, scoop the leftover paste into tablespoon-sized portions into a small pan or container (a small cookie scoop is great for this), freeze until solid, then store them in a freezer bag for future use.