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Spicy Red Lentil and Mushroom Pasta {vegan}

Imagine–your skillet full of tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and aromatic herbs simmering on your stove, wafting their mouthwatering essence, imagine your kitchen in flavor happiness. Picture too, the lucky eaters enjoying every tomato-y spicy morsel. The thing is, everyone wins with this spicy red lentil and mushroom pasta, cooks and devourers both!

Spicy Red Lentil and Mushroom Pasta | Letty's Kitchen

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This healthy, lighter and meatless pasta begs to be served in a large bowl, family style, and passed around the table. For a complete meal, pass a second big bowlful of crisp green lettuce with colorful veggies.

Spicy Red Lentil and Mushroom Pasta closeup serving bowl

The red lentils add an egg’s worth of protein to the sauce. Plus, lentils are fiber, mineral, and vitamin rich, a powerful food for any diet, from vegan to meat-inclusive.

The mushrooms, sautéed to rich golden color, shrink from what seemed like a copious amount to a realistic volume. In the cooking, they take on a pleasing, dare I say meaty, quality.

This pasta is my vegetarian variation of the robust wine-enhanced Italian meat and vegetable sauce called ragù. The name ragù stems from the verb ragoûter, which means, “to excite the appetite.” How about that? Spicy red lentil and mushroom pasta most definitely arouses the taste buds!

Spicy Red Lentil and Mushroom Pasta simmering in skillet

Salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and the fifth taste, umami, dance around our tongues when we eat. Umami (oo-MOM-ee), more mysterious than the other four, adds complexity to food, and has been described as tasty, meaty, and savory.

Spicy red lentil and mushroom pasta employs all kinds of umami.

  • Fermented foods like soy sauce increase umami in any dish they flavor. It’s amazing how much the tamari enhances this tomato sauce!
  • Especially when sautéed to deep golden, mushrooms are umami-famous.
  • A bit of maple syrup, the red wine, and a long simmer–these too convey umami power.

Spicy Red Lentil and Mushroom Pasta details and notes:

  • Gluten-free: Use gluten-free pasta.
  • This recipe is vegan. If your diet includes dairy, serve with grated aged cheese, like Parmesan. (Aged cheeses also have umami.)
  • Use a wider noodle, like pappardelle or tagliatelle. Fettuccine is thinner, though usually more available.
  • Time saving tip: Slice mushrooms with a food processor slicing attachment. The slices won’t be uniform but it doesn’t matter. Then, since your food processor bowl is already dirty, switch to the metal blade and blend the tomatoes.
  • Idea: Turn the pasta and sauce into a lasagna-like casserole: Spread the sauced pasta in an oiled 9 x 13-inch dish. Poke dollops of ricotta or soft goat cheese around and about. Bake at 350°F until very hot, about 20 minutes.
  • You might also enjoy these Lentil Quinoa Veggie Burgers. And these Spicy Greens and Lentil Tacos.

#Eat Seasonal

Spicy Red Lentil and Mushroom Pasta is part of April’s recipe roundup starring seasonal fruits and vegetables. For more delicious seasonal recipes, check out Vintage Mixer’s Seasonal Produce Guide. And for more recipes from a few food blogging friends, follow the links below. Our ultimate goal is to encourage you into the kitchen to cook something delicious—and seasonal!

Roasted Asparagus with Miso Butter by Floating Kitchen

Spring Arugula Salad with Shaved Asparagus, Radish and Peas by Flavor the Moments

Greek Yogurt Avocado Chicken Salad by Joy Food Sunshine

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3.75 from 4 votes
Spicy Red Lentil and Mushroom Pasta
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 15 mins

Serve this healthy meatless pasta with a crisp green salad mixed with colorful veggies. If you have really hungry eaters, include a loaf of hearty artisanal bread. Makes 6 to 8 servings. If you aren’t feeding a gang, the sauce freezes well--bonus for another meal.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: pappardelle pasta, pasta, vegetarian, Bolognese, lentils, mushrooms
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 418 kcal
  • 3/4 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound sliced mushrooms
  • 1 onion, chopped, about ¾ cup
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, blended until almost smooth but a bit chunky (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or organic cane sugar optional
  • 2 teaspoons tamari soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Grated Parmesan cheese. optional
  • 12 to 13 ounces pappardelle, tagliatelle, or fettuccine pasta
  1. Put the lentils in a large pot with water, bay leaf, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and gently cook until the lentils are just tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Test a bite after 5 minutes, and each minute after. Red lentils go from perfect toothy texture to mush very quickly and you want the lentils to soft, with texture. Drain. Stir the teaspoon of oil. Set aside.
  2. While the lentils cook, heat the first tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high flame. Add the mushrooms, sprinkle them with salt; cook, stirring occasionally. The mushrooms will release liquid—cook until they turn golden and all of the liquid has evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Add the onions, carrot, celery, and garlic. Sauté until the vegetables are soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the blended tomatoes, the sautéed mushrooms, basil, oregano, thyme, red wine, salt, and red pepper flakes. Add the maple syrup, if using.
  4. Simmer on medium flame 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened but is still moist. Add the cooked lentils, tamari and parsley. Cook until heated through. Season to taste with more salt and red pepper flakes, if you think they are needed. heat through. Keep warm.
  5. Cook pasta in well-salted water, according to package directions. Drain. Toss pasta with sauce and serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

If you have an immersion blender, use that to blend the diced tomatoes. You can also use a food processor.

*** Nutrition information is meant to be an estimate only. The numbers will vary based on the quantity consumed, brands used and substitutions that are made.

Nutrition Facts
Spicy Red Lentil and Mushroom Pasta
Amount Per Serving
Calories 418 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 48mg16%
Sodium 930mg40%
Potassium 987mg28%
Carbohydrates 67g22%
Fiber 12g50%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 18g36%
Vitamin A 1982IU40%
Vitamin C 18mg22%
Calcium 104mg10%
Iron 5mg28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


  • Oh I need to try this! I’m not a big fan of meat sauces, so this looks like a great hearty vegetarian option! Love all the texture from the lentils and mushrooms! Reply · 9 April, 2018

  • I love this vegetarian version of ragu and it looks so hearty and full of flavor! Lentils and mushrooms are such a nice for meat here — I would never miss it! Reply · 9 April, 2018

    • Thank you Marcie. I’d always wanted to try a veggie ragu and I’m really pleased with how this came out! Reply · 9 April, 2018

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