bolognese 'tutte le verdure' sauce

Updated: Nov 14, 2020

I’m always keen to create meals packed with veges for my kids and this one packs a punch with or without meat. It’s a beautiful base sauce for lasagne or cannelloni and only requires the slightest garnish of greens, given that it contains so many vegetables, including a LOT of spinach. Vegan mince and lentils work beautifully for extra protein and is a great way to replace a much-loved meaty meal with a plant-based one without compromising on flavour or mouthfeel. The recipe will be up tonight, including the cheese sauce for my herby lasagne (not vegan..).

Serves 8-10 - definitely a freezer filler


3 Tbsp olive oil

1 large onion

2 sticks of celery, finely chopped

2 large carrots, grated

1 large (or 2 small) courgettes, grated

1 eggplant, diced and sprinkled with salt

300g mushrooms, sliced

400g beef mince + 400g pork mince OR 400g vegan mince + 400g cooked, drained brown/green lentils

150g tomato purée (UK)/paste (NZ)

1 tsp oregano

½ tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried rosemary

½ cup red wine

2 Tbsp plain flour

2 x 400g tins of chopped/whole tomatoes in juice

2 tsp honey or sugar

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar or pomegranate molasses

400mL stock (beef, vegetable or porcini)

sea salt and pepper

250g fresh spinach leaves, washed


Heat the oil over a low-medium heat in a large sautée pan or stockpot. Add the onion, garlic, celery and grated carrot and cook gently until the veges are soft. Turn up the heat and add the mince/lentils and cook until the meat is browned. Add the grated courgette and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are releasing liquid, then stir in the tomato paste/purée, oregano, thyme and rosemary. Cook for about a minute, then sprinkle over the flour and cook until the flour froths a little. Splash in the wine, cooking for another minute, then add the tinned tomatoes, stock, vinegar/pomegranate molasses, honey/sugar and bay leaves. Stir well and bring everything to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes at least, after which time, taste it and add plenty of salt and pepper to taste. It is always better the day after, so if you're planning a lasagne, make it the day before!


You need a lasagne dish, cake pan or roasting dish, about 32 x 23cm (I use this one)


½ quantity of 'tutte le verdure' bolognese sauce above

1-2 packs of dried lasagne sheets

2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil