Vegan Lentil Butternut Bolognese

Vegan Lentil Butternut Bolognese

Back in the day when I still ate meat – ie the vegan version of BC/AD – I was a big fan of one pot meals and pressure cooker dishes. Hearty, tummy-warming and delicious, there are few better options in winter.

I’ve been wanting to make a lentil bolognese for some time, but I specifically wanted to make it in the pressure cooker. The idea of throwing all the ingredients in a pot for half an hour and coming out with a more or less complete dish is simply too good to give up just because you go veggie. So this was an experiment which, I’m thrilled to report, works perfectly first time round. It doesn’t always go this way – the hubs is always more than happy to detail some of my more spectacular flops over a beer.

The key here is cooking the lentils al dente. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the misfortune of eating overcooked lentils – I have, both through my own mistakes and some regrettable restaurant choices. Mushy lentils are just the grossest thing. It’s like eating earth flavoured porridge. So, don’t overcook! When in doubt, release the pressure, check and put the pot back on. It doesn’t matter if you do this once or twice, it won’t affect the outcome of the dish. And trust me, you’ll be ok with the extra admin for the payoff of properly cooked lentils – it’s a fitting trade.

Vegan Lentil Butternut Bolognese


  • 2.5 cups brown lentils
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 small butternut, deseeded, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp black black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Nuts of choice to garnish (optional)
  • Pasta of choice – who knows how many cups! Cook as per packet instructions.


  1. Heat up your pressure cooker and add a dash of olive. Add onion and garlic and cook lightly for a couple of minutes.
  2. Once onion is softened, add the tomatoes, spices and balsamic vinegar and mix well.
  3. Add the the stock, butternut and lentils and mix thoroughly, scraping the base of pot with a spoon to lift off any brown bits that have gotten stuck.
  4. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker. Mine is a stovetop cooker not an electric, so my times are based on this.
  5. Turn the heat up high and when the cooker starts to steam, lower to the heat to maintain the pressure and begin counting 12 minutes of cooking time.
  6. Once time is up, release the pressure using the valve and check the mixture. The original recipe called for the natural release method ie remove from heat and allow the pressure to release on its own (around 10 mins).  I found this to be slightly too long, so I extended the cooking time and used manual release. Remember the rule: if the lentils are too hard you can put them back on – if they’re too soft, it’s too late!
  7. Mix the bolognese and add a thickener if required – corn starch, tapioca starch or potato flour work well.
  8. Serve with pasta.

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