Zucchini Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

By Alexandra Caspero on July 14, 2014

Zoodles! Zucchini Noodles! Zuccachini (ok, I just made that last one up), whatever you call them- they have taken the healthy recipe game by storm.

I’ll admit, when I first heard of zucchini pasta, I wasn’t exactly running to the kitchen. Sure, I love zucchini, but I couldn’t fathom the idea of another pasta swap. Besides the fact that I cook more pasta than probably any other dish, most of the pasta swaps I’ve tried before have…. quite frankly sucked. And I say that in the nicest way.

Tofu noodles? Blech. Cooked bean sprouts? Yes, I’ve tried them, and they taste as disgusting as they sound. I assumed zucchini noodles would be more of the same.

But, since we know what happens when we ass-u-me, I tried them. And then I proceeded to eat the entire batch before anyone could even say- “I told you so”. Ha!

Well, joke’s on me because zucchini noodles are really, really good. Even to me, the pasta queen.
How to: Zucchini Noodles with Lentil Bolognase
After trying a few different methods, I really recommend purchasing a spiralizer. If you’re going to be eating this often, it’s an inexpensive tool that cuts prep time by 1/2. Maybe even 2/3s.

There are a few different models on the market, but I prefer this Bitoni Spiralizer over other more expensive models. For only $30 you get three different blades to create endless noodle options: long strands, spiral slices, or wide, fat, noodles.

Of course, you can serve zucchini noodles raw but when I am eating them as a hot dish, I prefer them cooked. Heat your oven to 375 degrees F, toss the noodle strands with a smudge of olive oil and roast in a single layer for 10 minutes.

Prefer them au natural? That works too.

Whether or not you take the zoodle plunge, this lentil ragu has topped my list of favorite hearty sauces. The red lentils almost disappear when cooking, adding depth and richness to this simple bolognese. If you’re not quite ready for full on zucchini noodles, try this dish with 1/2 the zucchini and 1/2 cooked pasta.

Enjoy this healthy pasta swap! Let’s compare this to a normal serving of pasta with red sauce:

Whole Wheat Pasta with lentil ragu: 412 calories, 3g fat, 18g fiber, 20g protein, 34% daily value iron

Zucchini noodles with lentil ragu: 230 calories, 2.7g fat, 15g fiber, 15.5g protein, 26% daily value iron

Almost 1/2 the calories of regular pasta with similar fiber, protein and iron counts. Your choice- if you’re looking for a lower calorie pasta swap, zucchini noodles are it!

How to: Zucchini Noodles with Lentil Bolognase

If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your Instagram photos with #delishknowledge . I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking! 

How to: Zucchini Noodles with Lentil Bolognase

Zucchini Noodles with Lentil Bolognese

  • Author: Alex
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 -6 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Cuisine: Italian/American


Healthy pasta! Zucchini noodles with Lentil Bolognase. You’d never guess this meal was vegan!

  • Author: Alex
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 -6 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Cuisine: Italian/American
  • Author: Alex
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 -6 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Cuisine: Italian/American


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper
  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 1 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 zucchini, peeled and spiralized using a spiralizer
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • salt/pepper


  1. For the Bolognese:
  2. Add the oil to a large stock pan and heat over medium heat.
  3. Add the onions, carrots, and celery along with a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes until soft and reduced.
  4. Add in the garlic, sugar, balsamic vinegar and dried herbs and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often so the garlic doesn’t burn.
  5. Add the lentils, tomato paste, bay leaves and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes until lentils are soft.
  6. Remove the bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper. Depending on what brand of vegetable broth/stock you used- you might need a pinch of salt or none at all!
  7. For the noodles:
  8. While the sauce is cooking, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and prep the zucchini.
  9. Toss zucchini with oil and small pinch salt/pepper.
  10. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer and cook for 7-10 minutes until just soft.
  11. Serve bolognese over zucchini noodles.

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

(17 comments) leave a comment

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    1. Jade
      February 11, 2018 AT 7:03 pm

      I really want to make this recipe but there’s no ingredients list with quantities??!

      1. Alex
        February 11, 2018 AT 7:19 pm

        I have no idea what happened, but I updated the ingredient list. Thanks!

    2. Cheryl
      August 2, 2014 AT 1:50 pm

      Purchased the spiralizer and prepared the zucchini noodles with a homemade tomato sauce. My husbands comment was -isn’t there anymore? I believe I have set the record for the longest strands of zucchini “pasta” at 48″. I am checking my garden each morning for more zucchini. We could eat this everyday!

      1. DK
        August 2, 2014 AT 3:11 pm

        So happy Cheri!! Glad Bob liked it!

    3. Audra
      July 31, 2014 AT 8:17 am

      The lentil bolognese turned out really good, but I have a lot leftover. Any idea if this would freeze well? Thanks!

      1. DK
        July 31, 2014 AT 8:28 am

        I’m glad you liked it Audra! I froze it for a few weeks and it turned out fine! As with all sauces, I wouldn’t recommend freezing it for longer than 6 months. Place the cooled sauce in a freezer-safe plastic bag and push down to remove as much air as possible!

    4. Cassie
      July 15, 2014 AT 9:33 am

      This looks so good! I just had a vegan bolognese at a cafe in town recently… I just pinned yours to recreate at home!

      1. DK
        July 15, 2014 AT 9:18 pm

        Awesome! Hope you like it! It’s one of my favorite new pasta sauces 🙂

    5. Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner
      July 15, 2014 AT 7:58 am

      I almost didn’t read this bc I thought it had meat in it! I am obsessed with my veg spiralizer! I never thought of making a sauce with lentils love it!

      1. DK
        July 15, 2014 AT 9:19 pm

        No meat! But even those who like regular bolognese won’t miss it. The lentils are so rich and meaty! I am obsessed with my veg spiralizer as well – I love it!

    6. Rachael@AnAvocadoADay
      July 15, 2014 AT 5:15 am

      I was similarly ambivalent about zoodles, but they’re actually really good! I just used my mandolin slicer, so not quite as pretty as spiralized zoodles, but whatevs! They taste the same!

      1. DK
        July 15, 2014 AT 9:20 pm

        Tastes the same! I was using a peeler for the first few times I made it. Then I was gifted this one and it made a huge difference in the prep time, but just as delicious 🙂

    7. Annie
      July 14, 2014 AT 1:37 pm

      I only recently learned the word zoodles (love that) – AND – I’ve been looking for a good spiralizer, etc., because the one I have is…just awful. So thanks for this yummy post!

      1. DK
        July 14, 2014 AT 7:10 pm

        Awesome Annie! Hope you like it! Yeah, I’ve tried a few- this is my favorite one for the price. It has little suctions on it that grip to the cutting board so it doesn’t slide. I’ve only used it for zucchini and cucumber though, haven’t tried it with harder vegetables.

    8. Dietitian Jess
      July 14, 2014 AT 8:53 am

      I’ve never baked my zoodles, definitely something I will need to try! Love my spiralizer though (I got it as a shower gift in March)… I’ve only used it for a few veggies and the zucchini has definitely been the most successful.