Black Lentil Bolognese

Looking for a delicious recipe to stay in and cook this Valentine's Day? This black lentil bolognese recipe is the perfect vegan romantic dinner for two (...really it is great for any occasion!).  The complex flavor profile in the sauce makes it a great meal for a special occasion. The balsamic vinegar, wine, and the deep earthy flavor of the lentils create a “meaty” flavor that is full of depth. Toss with your favorite pasta or serve over creamy polenta and enjoy!


black lentils recipe beluga lentils

What are black lentils? What are they best for?

Black lentils have a deep, nutty flavor, they can be pureed but also hold their shape well when cooked. These tiny lentils look almost like caviar and are very rare.  They make a great base for salads, soups, and casseroles.

What are the health benefits of black lentils? 

Black lentils are considered very healthy and nutritious. According to the USDA, one-half cup of uncooked black lentils contains 26g protein, 18g fiber, 100 mg calcium, 8 mg iron, and 960 mg potassium. Plus, they are full of anthocyanin, an antioxidant usually found in purple and blue foods.

black lentils different from regular lentils

What are the types of lentils and the differences? 

Great question! There are at least 14 different kinds of lentils, so for every lentil recipe, there is the perfect lentil. 

They can range from yellow to red to green or brown and black.  Interestingly these color variation are not only caused by different varieties, but as well as, skinning the lentils. For instance, if you skin one kind of brown lentil you are left with yellow lentil, through a process called decortication. It's no wonder that they are so many lentils!  Between our Palouse Brand and Clear Creek brands you can shop all types of lentils.

There is also evidence of lentils being eaten as many as 13,000 years ago. Fun fact: Lentils are one of the first domesticated crops and are still one of the most widely used pulses today.  

Types of Lentils: 

  • Brown Lentils - Brown lentils are the most common kind of lentils found in the U.S. It has a nutty, earthy flavor and holds its shapes when cooking. Can be substituted or used in any lentil recipe. While Pardina lentils are brown lentils, they are much smaller and have purple undertones to their skin. Their flavor is unmatched and they are much rarer than the common brown lentil. 
  • Green Lentils - Green lentils are also a very common type of lentil. Unlike the brown lentils' nutty flavor, green lentils have a more peppery flavor. They are primarily used in salads because they also hold their shape when cooked.  In comparing green lentils vs brown lentils they have a similar shape and size, and only slightly differ in their flavor profiles. Although they take longer to cook than their brown lentil counterpart. Puy lentils are green lentils that originated in France and they have a blue undertone to their green skin.
  • Red Lentils - Red lentils are most popular in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, however, they are finding their way into American dessert recipes. Red lentils are mild, sweet, and puree easily, as they mush when cooked. Red lentils are lentils that have had the skin removed or have been decorticated. 
  • Beluga Lentils are tiny black lentils that are very rare and are thought to be caviar-like. They have the highest protein content of any lentil at 24%, like the red lentil they have a mild flavor. However, beluga lentils hold their shape when cooked and are a great side for fish or chicken.

How to cook black lentils 

Our Clear Creek Beluga Lentils are sourced from a Montana family farm. Beluga black lentils cook within 20 minutes and do not require pre-soaking.  Also our black lentils, because non-irradiated, can be sprouted.  See how to sprout.

  • 1 Cup Dry Beluga Lentils
  • 3 Cups Water

Rinse the black lentils, add 3 cups water to a pot, bring water to a rolling boil. Add lentils then simmer for 15-20 minutes or until desired tenderness. Drain well. 

how to cook lentils

Black Lentil Bolognese


3 tbs olive oil 

1 large onion, diced

2 cups carrots, diced

2 cups celery, diced

1 tbs minced garlic

1 tbs tomato paste

1 ½ tsp salt 

½ tsp pepper

¼ tsp chili flakes (optional) 

1 tbs fresh thyme or oregano 

¼ cup red wine or stock

1 ¼ cup Clear Creek Black Lentils 

3 medium tomatoes, diced with juices 

3 ½ cups vegetable stock

¾ cups crushed toasted walnuts

2 tsp balsamic vinegar


  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. 
  2. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, herbs, and chili flakes. Lower the heat to medium and sauté for 7-8 minutes, stirring continuously. 
  3. Stir in the tomato paste, and cook for 1-2 minutes, browning a little bit to deepen the flavor. 
  4. Deglaze the pan with stock or wine. Once most of the liquid has cooked off and the tomatoes and let cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Puree the cooked veggies in a blender or with an immersion blender and add them back to the pot. 
  6. Add in the lentils, stock, and walnuts.
  7. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20-25 minutes.
  8. Continue cooking until lentils are tender, stir in balsamic vinegar. 
  9. Serve over pasta or polenta and top with fresh herbs. 

*We serve with rigatoni pasta, cooked using pasta rocks. This is the best way to prepare noodles.

Shop Our Black Lentils 

Find some of our other favorite lentils recipes: 

If you try this recipe or a variation, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @PalouseBrand on Instagram.

Comments 6

Cheryl on

This was sooooooo delicious!! A perfect fall weather food that sticks to the ribs. We served it over polenta which was a great pairing suggestion.

Ian Mertens on

Do you have pressure cooker instructions for cooking black lentils?? Please

Debra Corbett on

Black Lentil bolognese sounded good so I whipped up a batch and it is delicious! I didn’t worry about tomato sauce just tomatoes. Yum! And plenty for dinner and a few lunches.

Palouse Brand on

We have updated the recipe to include tomato paste in the ingredients. This recipe can also be frozen once prepared.

Dawn on

Hi. The recipe calls for tomato paste but I don’t see it on the ingredient list. How much should you use? Thanks.

Lu Hamacek on

Directions call for adding tomato paste, but it isn’t in the ingredients list. How much? And step 4 should say Add the tomatoes… Sounds delicious, but needs correction before I try it.

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