This puy lentil bolognese is a brilliant meat-free Monday dinner and freezer filler.

Puy Lentil Bolognese

Puy Lentil Bolognese

Puy lentil bolognese ingredients

(To make enough for 4 people with pasta)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 red onion, diced 

4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

4 large carrots, diced

1 bulb fennel, diced and fronds set aside 

200g (1 cup) uncooked Puy lentils

400g (14oz) canned diced tomatoes, no salt added

1 glass red wine

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

1 tablespoon dried oregano

pinch chili flakes

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

hot water to cover

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar to finish

To serve – This puy lentil bolognese stands up well to a wholegrain pasta. Choose a shape that will hold the sauce such as a shell or penne. I make some slaw to serve alongside.

To make the puy lentil bolognese:

1.  Chop all your vegetables (see my videos if you need to brush up on your knife skills).

2.  In a large lidded pan, heat the oil over a medium high heat. Add the carrots, onion and fennel and stir. Then cook for around 10 minutes on a medium high heat until the vegetables are starting to soften and turn golden. Stir every couple of minutes to make sure the vegetables are cooking evenly.

3.  Add the garlic to the pan and cook for a further minute before adding the fennel seeds, oregano and lentils.

4.  Throw in the red wine and balsamic and bubble it for a minute or two to burn off some of the alcohol then add the tomatoes.

5.  Stir well then pour hot water into the pan so that the vegetables and lentils are almost but not quite covered (see photo).

6.  Bring up to the boil, then drop to a simmer and cook for around 40-50 minutes or until the lentils are soft. If need be, remove the lid for the last bit of cooking to reduce the liquid – the lentils will absorb lots of liquid so this may not be necessary. You want a pretty dry sauce – the texture of bolognese.

7.  Taste then gradually add salt, pepper, chili flakes and red wine vinegar until it tastes perfect to you.

8.  Serve tossed with cooked pasta, stir it together and add a little of the pasta cooking water, stirring until the sauce is sticking to the pasta. I like to top mine with the reserved fennel fronds, a drizzle of balsamic. A bowl of slaw will take your veg quota up another level and will brighten up your dinner time.

9.  Leftovers can sit in the fridge for 3-4 days or can be frozen.

About Gemma Wade: 

Turning her love of cooking into a career, mother of two, Gemma Wade teaches the kitchen secrets to keeping all the parenting plates spinning. Gemma's one-to-one or group led classes, online tutorials and easy recipes demonstrate how to incorporate fuss free, quick and delicious meals into hectic family schedules. 

Unlike many chef-led cooking schools, Gemma’s classes and recipes come from the reality of cooking in a home kitchen with small children underfoot and the rest of life being juggled around it.

“Over the years I’ve picked up tons of tips and tricks to get delicious food on the table with a realistic level of effort. Because I spend all my time with real, hard working parents I’ve been able to truly refine what will and won’t work for them. My recipes are inspired by their day-to-day needs, they look and taste amazing but rarely take more than 30 minutes of hands-on work.” Says Gemma. “I’m a big believer in the power of menu planning and the importance of one family, one meal which reduces stress as well as saving money and avoiding waste. I teach based on the principle of cooking with whole, natural ingredients, organic where possible.”

Since launching in 2011 Gemma has had over 5,000 people through her classes, most of which have been busy working mums and dads from companies including, Google, Apple and Facebook.

For more of Gemma’s recipes, online tutorials, or to book a class, visit or follow @gemcwade

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