This vegan lentil ragu with sweet butternut squash and green lentils is a delicious protein rich dinner, and perfect healthy comfort food for cold winter evenings. Taking just 10 minutes to prepare, it can be made ahead and frozen too.
There is nothing better than a bowl of this steaming hot ragu on a cold winters night! The butternut squash adds a slight sweetness that my family loves, and adds an extra serving of veggies, which I love! I have seen many vegan ragu recipes which include mushrooms, and whilst we love them, this lentil ragu recipe is made without mushrooms.
Why we love this recipe
- Great meal prep recipe – it keeps well stored in the fridge and is Freezer friendly too…
- …which also makes it perfect for batch cooking
- Hearty, comforting, and healthy – full of protein rich lentils and vegetables.
- Gluten free and vegan
- Green lentils – I like using green lentils, but you can also use brown lentils. If using brown lentils, reduce the cooking time by 10-15 minutes.
- Butternut squash – adds a sweetness to the ragu. You can use pumpkin instead.
- Stock – vegetable stock, or if you are not vegan, chicken stock works well.
- Tinned tomatoes – canned diced tomatoes, or use canned/tinned plum tomatoes and break them down with a spoon.
Green lentils are more peppery in taste than brown lentils, and take around 15 minutes longer to cook. However in dishes such as this they are interchangable.
Yes you can. Soaking them can help reduce the cooking time. You should rinse lentils under running water and pick over any lentils that are broken, or any bits of debris in them.
Penne, rigate and ziti will capture a lot of the ragu sauce, or use parpadelle (not spaghetti).
My Recipe Tips
- Caramelising the onions adds a deep richness to this vegetarian ragu, and the butternut squash provides a sweetness – which makes it more popular with the kids!
- Fast dinner – use ready cooked tinned lentils and reduce the stock by 1 c/240ml.
- For a thicker ragu – take out 1 ½ cups/ 3 heaped tablespoons of the ragu and blend until smooth before stirring back in to the ragu.
How to serve ragu
- Spoon over pasta shapes of your choice: farfelle (as in these images), penne, tagliatelle. Although not traditionally correct, we do eat this ragu with whatever pasta shape we have in the house.
- Rice or quinoa for gluten free ragu.
- Gnocchi or mashed potato, or even roast potatoes!
- With a slice of garlic bread (Air fryer recipe) on the side.
- Fridge: Keep in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 days.
- Freezer: Cool completely then freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight.
Ideas for leftover ragu
- Blitz into soup with a little more stock for a smooth lentil soup, or leave chunky and if you have any leftover pasta, heat together with some more stock to make a chunky minestrone-type soup.
- Use in a vegan lasagne
More lentil recipes for you
I love cooking with lentils, from soups to wraps, they can be the star of the show or hidden in a sauce like the lasagne.
More vegan dinners your family will love!
This recipe was originally published June 2020, it has since been updated with more information for you. The recipe remains the same.
- ½ tablespoon olive oil ($0.08 /£0.04p)
- 1 medium onion, finely diced ($0.45 /£0.10p)
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed ($0.26 /£0.05)
- 2 stalks celery, finely diced ($0.80 /£0.16p)
- 1 carrot, finely diced ($0.35 /£0.04p)
- ½ large butternut squash (or 1 small), cut into 1.5cm / .6inch cubes ($2.00 /£1.15)
- ½ tablespoon tomato puree ($0.02 /£0.02p)
- 1c (200g) green lentils ($0.96 /£0.48p)
- 14oz (400g) tin/can tomatoes ($0.75 /£0.28p)
- 3½c (875ml) stock ($1.67 /£0.05p)
- 1 bay leaf ($0.10 /£0.03p)
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, or ½ teaspoon dried rosemary ($0.09 /£0.03p)
- Salt ($0.01 /£0.01)
- Black pepper ($0.01 /£0.01)
- Fresh parsley, to serve, optional
- In a medium to large saucepan cook the onion in the olive oil over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until soft and caramelised.
- Add the garlic, celery and carrot, butternut squash and a splash of water and stir.
- Raise the heat slightly, cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato puree and add the lentils, tinned tomatoes, stock, bay leaf and rosemary and black pepper. Cover and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer for 40 minutes, until the lentils and vegetables are tender.
- Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste (some bought stocks are very salty). * for a thicker sauce see notes below
- Serve with pasta and fresh parsley sprinkled over the top.
- Extra step for a thicker sauce – take out 1 ½ cups/ 3 heaped tablespoons of the ragu and blend until smooth before stirring back in to the ragu.