Puy Lentil Bolognese

“Lentils like these have long been a pasta sauce in my house, the ingredients in the main recipe are based on my ragu and I’m equally happy with either, but we now eat lentils more often than we do mince. Their flavour is forward to the point of being brazen and they’ll stand out in pasta, pies, with any spice you care to add, and they can be the base for fritters. The lentil recipe is vegan but like all of my vegetable recipes, it’s not a case of making them less or more special than meat; I treat all ingredients the same, these recipes are delicious first and vegan second. When I serve lentils like this, meat eaters or not, everyone has loved them.”
By Alex Mackay

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The Method

  • Prep Ahead The lentils can be cooked 2-3 days ahead and refrigerated. They can also be frozen.
  • Serve with Pasta. Grains like freekeh, spelt tagliatelle, whole-wheat giant couscous. Potatoes. Couscous.
  • Get a medium sized pan with a lid. Add the dried lentils, 1 clove of garlic and water. Cover. Bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until the lentils are just cooked through, at this stage they usually have a little bite, right in the middle.
  • Add the salt, sugar and pepper. Cover the pan and leave to sit for 10 minutes. This period “rests” the lentils and lets them finish cooking completely.
  • Get a large saucepan. Add the onions, garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp water. Cover. Put the pan onto a medium heat. Sweat for 7 minutes until the onions and garlic are soft. Check halfway through, if the onions have started to dry out, add 2 tbsp more water
  • Take the lid off. Add the tomato puree. Turn the heat to high. Fry for 2 minutes, stirring continuously and watching carefully, until the tomato puree is lightly browned. When it smells like sun dried tomatoes, it’s ready
  • Add the red wine. Boil until the wine has reduced by half. Add the cooked lentils, tinned tomatoes and bay leaves. Bring to the boil. Turn the heat to low. Simmer for 12 minutes. Take the bay leaves out and throw them away. Season to taste
  • Sprinkle with your favourite plant-based cheese if you fancy!


  • 125g Merchant Gourmet Dried Puy Lentils
  • 375ml water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled, finely sliced
  • 2 medium onions, (400g) peeled, diced 1/2 cm
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 375ml gutsy red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon is good)
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves

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