Spaghetti and Zoodle Lentil Bolognese

lentil bolognese
Leyla Shamayeva, MS, RD
Total Time: 60 min
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 50 min
Servings: 3

Nutrition Highlights (per serving)

307 calories
7g fat
51g carbs
15g protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3
Amount per serving  
Calories 307
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 2mg 1%
Sodium 373mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 51g 19%
Dietary Fiber 14g 50%
Total Sugars 13g  
Includes 0g Added Sugars 0%
Protein 15g  
Vitamin D 0mcg 0%
Calcium 89mg 7%
Iron 5mg 28%
Potassium 1233mg 26%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Give yourself a triple whammy of benefits by swapping in lentils for the beef used in traditional meat-based bolognese recipes.

First, lentils are a cheaper and more sustainable source of protein—a pound will cost you less than two dollars. Next, they offer blood-pressure controlling potassium and no fat, which can't be said for meat-based dishes. Finally, they pack in incredibly filling amounts of fiber and protein, a necessity when you're eating lower calorie meals so that you can stay full. While meat has the protein, it has zero fiber, so lentils are a winner substitute.

The lentil bolognese is served over a spaghetti and zucchini noodle mix. The added zucchini is just another expert trick for cutting calories (and, in this case, carbs) while adding fiber.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely minced
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, finely minced
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup dry green or brown lentils
  • 2 small whole tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (1 8-ounce can)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 large zucchini, spiralized
  • 2 ounces whole wheat spaghetti


  1. Heat olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat.

  2. Add garlic, onion, bell pepper, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft.

  3. Add the lentils and all ingredients through oregano. Stir together and bring to a boil, then a simmer, and cook covered for about 30 minutes until lentils are cooked. Stir occasionally.

  4. Cook whole wheat spaghetti according to package instructions about 20 minutes into cooking the lentils.

  5. Combine zucchini noodles with the spaghetti and top with lentil bolognese.

Ingredient Variations and Substitutions

You can use 1 1/2 cups canned diced tomatoes instead of whole tomatoes and tomato sauce.

Use any color bell pepper you have handy.

While carrots add a desirable texture and work well with the coloring of the dish, feel free to experiment with other vegetables. Grated beets will lend a richer color and a tad of sweetness, for example.

You can also use a bean-based pasta instead of whole wheat pasta for even more fiber and protein. Chickpea-based pasta, for example, is widely available now and makes a suitable substitute texture-wise.

Cooking and Serving Tips

Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water at a time if the mixture in step 4 becomes too thick before the lentils cook through.

A spiralizer is the easiest way to make zucchini noodles, but you can also use a peeler. If the noodles come out too wide with a peeler you can slice them into thinner strips.

Sprinkle with a teaspoon of grated parmesan when serving, if desired.

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