Cauliflower Bolognese

Cauliflower Bolognese-this hearty and healthy bolognese is made with cauliflower and lentils. Even meat lovers will enjoy this rich and delicious bolognese sauce.

Cauliflower Bolognese Recipe

Utah has been getting pounded with snow this winter. Josh is loving the snow because he has had some pretty epic ski days on the mountain, but I am kind of over it. I enjoyed the first few snow storms, but I am ready for the snow to go! I do want to thank the snow for my comfort food cravings. The snow MADE me make this amazing Cauliflower Bolognese Sauce. I was craving a big old bowl of pasta and this cauliflower bolognese was the perfect sauce to top off my spaghetti.

Cauliflower Bolognese Recipe

On one of our many snow days, I turned on the fireplace and snuggled up with Emilie’s cookbook, The Clever Cookbook. I was flipping through the book and spotted a Cauliflower Bolognese recipe and knew I had to make it for dinner. I was already craving pasta and I LOVE cauliflower so I was sold. It sounded so good!

Cauliflower Bolognese Sauce Recipe

If you are a traditionalist and are thinking, cauliflower in my bolognese, what??? Think cauliflower in my bolognese, YES! It is SO good! There are also lentils in the sauce which make it super hearty and give the sauce a nice protein boost. The cauliflower is chopped really small so you don’t even know it is there. The cauliflower and lentils give the sauce a nice, meaty texture without any meat. I changed the recipe a bit by adding balsamic vinegar, some herbs and spices, and a pinch of sugar to cut the acidity.

I served the Cauliflower Bolognese over whole wheat spaghetti and added fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.

Cauliflower Bolognese Recipe on

Oh my goodness, this sauce is life changing, seriously! My meat loving boys even loved it. They had no clue it was made with cauliflower and lentils and I wasn’t about to tell them:) Shhh, that is our little secret:) Maxwell loved it so much he was yelling bolognYAYse…ha!

The bolognese sauce has SO much flavor. The addition of balsamic vinegar really made the sauce rich and delicious. Don’t skip it! This bolognese would also be good with zoodles, spaghetti squash, quinoa, rice, on toast, or with roasted vegetables, chicken…just about everything!

I put some sauce in the freezer, it will come in handy if we keep having these cold, snowy days. Cauliflower Bolognese is the perfect healthy comfort food, you’ve gotta try it.

Cauliflower Bolognese Recipe

Cauliflower Bolognese

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You will never know this hearty bolognese is meatless. It is SO good!

Yield: Serves 8

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons butter (olive oil for vegan)
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onions 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 (28 oz) cans whole plum tomatoes in thick puree
  • 1/2 cup red lentils 
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Dash of crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb spaghetti or other pasta (can use gluten-free pasta, zoodles, or spaghetti squash)
  • Chopped fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (omit cheese for vegan)


  1. Slice the cauliflower in half, removing the thick center core. Cut into large chunks.
  2. Using a food processor, break up the cauliflower into florets. Do this in batches to create uniform pieces. Pulse the cauliflower two times until it looks crumbly with a few small florets. Put cauliflower in a bowl and repeat. If you don’t have a food processor, you can finely chop the cauliflower into pieces.
  3. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the butter or olive oil over low heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add the cauliflower to the pot. Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook stirring occasionally until the cauliflower begins to lose its shape and takes on a light golden color, about 10-12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. Pour in the tomatoes, red lentils, balsamic vinegar, sugar, thyme, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper. Mix until well combined.
  6. Place the lid on top and bring the sauce to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for an additional 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft and lentils are broken down. The sauce should be thick. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Serve pasta with cauliflower bolognese sauce. Garnish with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve warm.

Note-If you don’t have whole plum tomatoes, you can use diced or crushed tomatoes. The cauliflower bolognese will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. It will freeze in a freezer container for up to 2 months. Make sure the sauce is completely cooled before freezing. This sauce is also great with zucchini noodles, rice, or quinoa.

Adapted from The Clever Cookbook

All images and text ©Two Peas & Their Pod.

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