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Comforting mushroom and lentil ragu

I absolutely adore this recipe. When I ate meat, spaghetti bolognese was always my go-to comfort food, a dish I’d grown up with and mastered myself, spending hours lovingly slow cooking it to perfection. I eat a lot less pasta than I used to, but still love to eat it once in a while, generally pairing it with a crisp salad and a glass of bold red wine. I never thought I’d find a replacement for my coveted spag bol, and didn’t ever try. Once I’d tried cooking a lentil ragu however, I didn’t look back. This one is particularly earthy and moreish, flavoured with fennel seeds and rosemary, and although you inevitably don’t get quite the depth you do with a meat ragu, the porcini mushrooms, miso paste and red wine add depth and umami. Mushrooms here give a much needed Vitamin D hit which we lack in winter and need for calcium absorption and lentils are a great source of so much good stuff - B vitamins, magnesium, iron, protein and fibre. Combining wholewheat pasta rather than white pasta with the lentils means this meal has all the amino acids our body needs (i.e. a complete protein).

Serves 2


1 tbsp coconut oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 celery stick, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 tsp fennel seeds

3 cloves garlic, crushed

150g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped

15g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked for 30 minutes in 150ml hot water and then chopped, water reserved

1 tsp miso paste

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves chopped

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 x 400g tinned tomatoes

100ml red wine

200g dried green lentils

500ml water

Pinch of salt and pepper


  1. Heat the coconut oil in a heavy based saucepan and add the onion, celery, carrot and fennel seeds. Cook for 5-10 minutes on a low heat until soft. Add the garlic, chestnut mushrooms and porcini mushrooms and turn the heat up. If you find a lot of water coming out of the mushrooms, keep the heat high until the moisture has cooked off, probably around 4-5 minutes.

  2. Turn the heat down, and add the miso paste, rosemary, tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, red wine, lentils, porcini water (being careful not to add the sediment which should have settled to the bottom) and veg stock.

  3. Cook for 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft (cooking times can vary quite a lot between brands). Add salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Serve with wholewheat pasta, a crisp salad or tenderstem broccoli (which pairs so well with fennel) and enjoy!

Allergens: Celery, soya, possible sulphites in red wine


This ragu also makes a great base for a veggie shepherd’s pie topped with mashed potato and an oozy, cheesy topping - the stuff childhood memories are made of! Or use a white bean mash topper instead with cannellini or butter beans. The rosemary and fennel make this ragu taste really wintery and earthy, but you can swap out the herbs for whatever you have to hand or prefer, basil and oregano turn this into a more classic veggie bolognese sauce. Add chilli flakes for a kick of heat!


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