Cauliflower Bolognese

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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

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Cauliflower Bolognese

You will never know this hearty bolognese is meatless. It is SO good!
4.91 from 32 votes


  • small head cauliflower
  • tablespoons butter (olive oil for vegan)
  • cup chopped yellow onions 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 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)


  • Slice the cauliflower in half, removing the thick center core. Cut into large chunks.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Pour in the tomatoes, red lentils, balsamic vinegar, sugar, thyme, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper. Mix until well combined.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Calories: 328kcal, Carbohydrates: 61g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 8mg, Sodium: 200mg, Potassium: 682mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 208IU, Vitamin C: 47mg, Calcium: 74mg, Iron: 3mg

Have you tried this recipe?

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I'm Maria and my husband is Josh. We share a love of cooking, baking, and entertaining. We enjoy creating recipes that are simple, fresh, and family friendly. We love sitting around the table with good food, good conversation, and good friends and family! Our kitchen is always open!
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    1. Yes, that should work. I will have to try it to get exact measurements, my guess would be about 3 cups.

  1. 5 stars
    I am eating this as I type my review…. amazing!! My mom (who isn’t vegetarian and sometimes grossed out by my weird recipes ) even loves it! Flavor is so good. Wouldn’t change a thing. 

  2. 5 stars
    Oh my gosh this looks so good! I am over here drooling over this dish right now. I am all over this. I can’t even stop starring !!

  3. I made this today and was shocked by how good it was. I had my doubts but thought I would just try. I served it over a mix of  spiralled carrots and normal pasta. My kids just got all their veggies and wanted seconds! Thanks for the lovely recipe. 

  4. Looks delicious! I am not a big fan of chunks of tomato.
    Could you use tomato sauce or puree instead? If so how much?

  5. Hi, I haven’t made this yet butI was wondering if you could make this a little more spicy and if so what should I add??
    Thank you,

  6. 5 stars
    This is a great recipe!  I’m going to use my Instant Pot tonight to make it again.  After sauté the onions, then cauliflower, garlic, I’ll try high pressure for 10 minutes.  Have you done this in the IP?

  7. I was wondering if I could buy riced cauliflower ?   I wasn’t sure that it would create the heavier texture that maybe this recipe needs.

  8. Im doing this right now! Looks so good but I have a question… doesn’t  it seem to over cook the cauliflower? Softening it first and then let it simmer for half an hour with all the rest seems to me a bit too much, like all he good stuff will be gone by over cooking. Can this happen? Thx!

  9. This is fantastic.  Thank you!  I’ll definitely make this regularly.

    Younger son tried only a minuscule taste.  Older son reluctantly tried it and then dipped the remainder of his pasta in it.  That’s success in my book.  😉

  10. I made this and was very impressed. The appearance and the texture say “meat sauce.” I served it to my MIL, and she totally thought there was meat in the sauce. My lentils softened with no issue (although this did sit on the stove for a time while I nursed the baby). I added about 1/2 cup of tomato paste to dial up the tomato flavour (personal preference and also hid the cauliflower a bit more). I also dialed up the spices slightly.

  11. Made this and added grated carrot ……not sure if mushrooms would work as well…but the carrots were fine.

  12. 5 stars
    Made this last night and it was absolutely delicious! I used a blender instead of a food processor for the cauliflower and it turned out fine. I added extra garlic  and a little vegetable stock  to make the sauce a little more runny.  Fresh thyme was substituted with dried thyme and I added extra of all the herbs for more flavour. I used dry chilli flakes instead of the crushed red pepper. Highly recommend this recipe. 

  13. What is the nutrition contents for this receipe? I am trying to figure out the Weight Watcher’s points for this.

  14. I have just cooked this and I love it I always put a bit of spice in my food. Anyway, I live in Thailand, and my wife said everyone would like this. So I cooked for 4 adults and teenagers total in 10. After cooking the sauce I took my serving and they added pork mince after frying it in garlic and then added pork to remaining sauce. Everything got eaten and could have served more so this recipe is a winner and I will continue to use it. Thanks

  15. Hi y’all I made this recipe yesterday for my wife and I we are both WFPB and all I can say is Yum – O it is really good , ty for the recipe 😀

  16. I didn’t have enough canned tomatoes for some reason, so I just used two jars of prepared Bertolli Tomato and Basil spaghetti sauce and added cauliflower and lentils as instructed. I skipped other seasons but did add balsamic vinegar. It was very flavorful! 

  17. 5 stars
    As a meat-lover that’s Been cutting meat drastically lately i can Totally recommend this recipe. Did’nt miss the mest at all and a classic Bolognese is one of my all time pasta favorites. Thanks to the two peas for making it easy to choose vegetarian dishes!  

  18. 5 stars
    My daughter got me onto this recipe. OMG it is so delicious it is crazy. My youngest 16 who’s favourite meal is meaty bolognese hates trying new thing and was scared to try it, she took one bite and said this is so delicious and since it’s healthy we should have it every day. I put wine in mine just like I do my meaty one. I used the traders Joe’s rice cauliflower I did not mearure (bad habit of mine) I put the whole bag in but I think next time i will put more tomatoes or less rice cauliflower. I did not use oil and instead of sugar I used maple syrup.I served it with GF pasta and topped it with yeast to replace the cheese. My husband loved it too. Thank you so much I will definetly be following you for more yummy meals. I am wondering if I can make a lasagnia with it, I could try the white sauce with almond milk since we are now wfpb.

  19. 5 stars
    I was very generous with the seasoning and ended up cooking the sauce for 1.5 hours on low heat… but the result was superb. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  20. 5 stars
    I LOVED this! I’ve never cooked with lentils before but I’m trying to eat less meat and was pleased with the result. Like another commenter, I used jarred marinara but still added in the balsamic, garlic, onions, etc. I used Crimson lentils and they were a tad crunchy but I didn’t mind the texture at all. This was seriously delicious. I don’t usually like leftovers of cauliflower dishes, so I’m hoping this reheats well.

    1. The leftovers were delicious! I’m making this again for a friend who just had surgery. Thanks for this delicious meatless recipe!

  21. 5 stars
    Where has this been all my life? This was really delicious. Satisfied my carnivore and pasta-loving husband – he couldn’t even finish the portion I gave him. It was surprisingly hearty. Daughter hates squash and cauliflower and she said it was really good. Freezing two containers of leftovers for another night. This was a winner!

  22. 5 stars
    This was an amazing recipe. I was missing a couple of ingredients. Substituted the balsamic with red wine and the lentil with mushrooms and added nutritional yeast. Yummy!!!

  23. 5 stars
    I love this recipe. It takes likes really nice, meaty Bolognese sauce. It’s my go-to pasta and I never use mince anymore. The cauliflower takes a while to soften but it’s worth the wait. I add red wine. Highly recommend!

  24. 5 stars
    Amazing recipe!! I didn’t have balsamic so I just added some red wine and sugar for that and I’m a sucker for mushrooms which I also added. Paired it with some fettuccine. Mmmm, happy happy tummy.

  25. 5 stars
    I followed the recipe as is, except I didn’t have lentils so I substituted canned pink beans in the last 15 minutes. I found it remarkably flavorful and filling! It is going in my recipe binder, and I will definitely be making it again!

  26. 5 stars
    Absolutely amazing recipe! Think I can say that I prefer this over normal bolognese! The recipe was super easy to make and turned out absolutely fantastic. Super fresh and deliceous, the perfect recipe for the whole family, vegetarian and non-vegetarians.

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