Easy, healthy and delicious! This speedy beef and lentil bolognese take just 25 minutes from start to finish, making it the perfect mid-week dinner.
Lentils not only are filled with fibre and lots of good nutrients (iron, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and potassium), they also take on flavours really well! What a great way to add nutrients into your plate of pasta!
For days when you've got the time (and when that cooking inspiration strikes!), give my classic Spaghetti Bolognese recipe a go! Yes, it does take a bit more time and effort but I promise you, it'll be well worth it!
- Lentils for convenience, go for the canned stuff. Once drained, it's about 235g/8oz which is all you need for this recipe. If using dried lentils (you'll need about 100g/3.5oz), do soak them beforehand otherwise extra cooking time of about 30 minutes is required. Soak time required depends on the type of lentil used - simply follow the packet instructions or just soak it overnight.
- Soy sauce adds extra umami to this bolognese. Don't worry, you won't even taste it! We're only using half a tablespoon here to add complexity to the dish. Can substitute with worcestershire sauce.
- Brown sugar can use white sugar if that's all you've got on hand. I love using brown sugars in my cooking due to the molasses content, making the dish richer.
- Whole canned tomatoes are preferred as I find them richer compared to diced tomatoes. Also, compared to crushed, higher quality tomatoes are used to can whole tomatoes so get the good stuff!
Step by step instructions
To start, get the garlic lightly golden and aromatic before adding the beef mince. Since this is a speedy bolognese, onions are omitted and a bit more than the usual amount of garlic is used. This will give the bolognese a nice garlicky flavour that's not overpowering yet delicious noticeable. 😉
Once the beef is brown, add in a splash of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Once the balsamic vinegar has been reduced and absorbed, mix in lentils.
Now add canned tomatoes, soy sauce, sugar, dried oregano, salt and pepper. With your trusty spatula, gently break the tomatoes apart into small chunks. I'd avoid vigorous crushing to minimise mess all around the stove!
Once you're satisfied with the crushed-ness of the tomatoes, add in half a handful of torn fresh basil. Simmer your lovingly made beef and lentil bolognese for 10 minutes whilst you get on with cooking the pasta.
To serve, simply mix in cooked, drained spaghetti and sprinkle crumbled feta and fresh basil!
If you've been looking for ways to up your fibre intake, definitely give this recipe a go! Don't you just love a feel-good recipe!?
Tips for making this dish perfect every time
As you can see, this is a very simple and easy recipe but get these few things right and you'll be very pleased with the results!
- Heavily season the pasta cooking water. Like what Samin Nosrat says, make sure the water is salty like the ocean in her Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat book. P.s. fantastic book, I urge all foodies to give this a read.
- Brown the beef on high heat and sizzle that balsamic vinegar! Browning on high heat adds complexity and depth to meats (colour = flavour!). Sizzling and reducing the balsamic vinegar elevates its flavours!
- Season the beef as soon as it touches the pan. So this means whilst it's still proper raw. It's much harder to get salt into meats once it's cooked - yes, even minced meats. So give it some salt lovin whilst it's still red!
- If using dried lentils, soak before cooking. Unsoaked lentils take more time (about 30 minutes extra), which effectively defeats the purpose of this speedy bolognese!
Mix the pasta into the bolognese before serving means you can tuck in straight away with zero chance of bland mouthfuls!
Good to know (FAQs)
Nope! Simmering means the heat is super low and thus won't be enough to reduce the sauce too much. Just enough so that the sauce gets nice and rich.
Lasts up to 3 days. For freshness, keep the feta cheese and fresh basil separately. Sprinkle them onto the bolognese after reheating.
Safely, up to about 3 months. However, to keep the flavours fresh and tasting delish, up to 1 month.
Made this recipe? Let me know your thoughts or questions by dropping a note in the comments section below! I'd love to hear from you 🙂
Happy cooking! - Gen
Beef and Lentil Bolognese (Speedy!)
- 300 g / 10 ounce dried spaghetti
- 250 g / ½ pound beef mince
- 1 can lentil drained, net weight is about 235g/ 8oz (note 1)
- 2 cans whole tomatoes
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoon brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ tablespoon soy sauce substitute: worcestershire sauce (note 2)
- ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 100 g / 3.5 ounce feta cheese about ½ cup
- a handful of fresh basil
Making the bolognese
- In a large pan, add olive oil and garlic. Sizzle on medium heat until lightly golden.
- Add beef mince, lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook on high heat until brown. Add balsamic vinegar and reduce. (note 3)
- Reduce heat to medium. Add lentil, stir through then add canned tomatoes, sugar, dried oregano, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Break the tomatoes apart with a spatula into small pieces. Bring up to boil then reduce to a simmer.
- Taste bolognese and adjust for seasoning if necessary. Mix in half a handful of torn fresh basil. Simmer for 10 minutes, no lid.
- Whilst bolognese is simmering away, cook spaghetti according to packet instructions. Remember to heavily season the water with salt.
- Drain and add spaghetti into the bolognese, mix well.
- To serve, sprinkle with crumbled feta and fresh basil.