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4.96 from 22 votes

Cauliflower Bolognese

Recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod

You will never know this hearty bolognese is meatless. It is SO good!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8
Calories: 328kcal


  • 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