Packed with protein-rich lentils, an array of aromatic spices, and nestled within a toasted sub roll, this vegan twist on a classic Italian favorite is a surefire way to satisfy your family.
This recipe was inspired by my son, who loves a meatball sub, (a great dinner idea for vegans in non vegan families BTW, because you can easily have two sets of meatballs at the ready to feed the whole family with the same meal.) I had made a big batch of Lentil Bolognese and was brainstorming other ways I could use the sauce before freezing a portion for future meals.
I experimented with this new and improved Italian sub with delicious results. Part sub, part sloppy Joe, the whole family agrees that this meal is a new “family favorite”.
Why I love this Lentil Bolognese recipe
Instead of meatballs, the hearty and chunky Lentil Bolognese Sauce is your filling. It’s thick enough to hold in the sandwich roll, giving off a little bit of Sloppy Joe vibes. You can make and store the sauce in advance so that you can throw this meal together in 10 minutes during a busy weeknight.
I also love a no mess meal and this one fits the bill. Slice and spread your rolls on a baking sheet. Fill with the sauce and top with the cheeses before putting it all in the oven. That’s just one sheet pan to clean!
Another win for this recipe is that it’s so versatile for vegans and non vegans eating the same meal. Swap in dairy cheeses for non vegans. For the sauce, you can separate the portions and sprinkle in Italian sausage, cooked grown beef, over even meatballs to satiate meat lovers while adapting the recipe with ease.
Ingredients for Lentil Bolognese Subs
Lentil Bolognese Sauce
Our homemade recipe is outlined below. The sauce should be thick enough so it doesn’t run out of the roll with enough texture in each bite.
No meatball sub would be complete without this signature roll.
Just a little dollop of sauce to spread along the inside of each roll for extra flavor.
Vegan Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese
I’m going big and layering in two types of vegan cheeses onto these subs. My mozzarella pick is Miyoko’s Vegan Mozz. They have a smoked and regular variety, both delicious. For Parmesan, Violife’s Just Like Parm Wedge is hands down my favorite choice.
The fresh herb leaves add another layer of flavor and brighten everything up.
How to Make Lentil Bolognese Subs
- Make your Lentil Bolognese Sauce:
Prep and store your sauce ahead of time so you can just reheat when ready to assemble your subs.
- Prep your rolls:
Slice and spread open the hoagie rolls.
- Stuff your rolls:
Spread marinara sauce along the inside of the roll and fill generously with the Lentil Bolognese Sauce.
- Layer on the mozzarella:
Top each roll with the cheese slices and place in the oven for about 10 minutes until toasty and melty.
- Add your toppings:
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan and top with the basil leaves.
In the case of a gluten allergy, swap the hoagie roll with a gluten free alternative. You could also swap a roll with a sweet potato or zucchini boat.
Not a fan of lentils? Swap crumbled tempeh or your favorite meatless ground beef in the sauce instead.
Meal Prep & Storage Tips
Make and store the Lentil Bolognese Sauce:
- Prepare the sauce ahead of time and store until ready to serve the pasta. It can also be frozen and thawed overnight in the refrigerator.
Use airtight containers for storage:
- Leftover sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week or frozen for up to 6 months. I use Souper Cubes for storing my sauces in ready-to-use portions.
What to Serve with Lentil Bolognese Subs
These subs are a meal in itself, but pair one or more of these side dishes to round out your meal:
- Garlic Roasted Vegetables:
- Roast a medley of your favorite vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and bell peppers with olive oil, garlic, and your choice of seasonings.
- Mixed Green Salad:
- A simple green salad with a vinaigrette dressing provides a refreshing contrast to the hearty subs. You can add ingredients like cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
- Sauteed Spinach or Swiss Chard:
- Quickly sautéed leafy greens with garlic and a touch of lemon juice is a healthy and nutritious side choice.
- Caesar Salad:
- Combine romaine lettuce, croutons, and a creamy Caesar dressing made with tahini or cashews.
- Caprese Salad:
- Layer sliced tomatoes with fresh basil leaves and slices of vegan mozzarella cheese, drizzled with balsamic glaze or a basil-infused olive oil.
- Sweet Potato Fries:
- The natural sweetness of crispy sweet potato fries pairs well with the savory flavors of the Bolognese subs.
Lentil Bolognese Subs are a vegan take on the classic Italian Bolognese sauce, where lentils are used as a protein-rich meat substitute. This flavorful sauce is served in toasted sub rolls, creating a hearty and delicious sandwich.
Yes, lentils work exceptionally well as a meat substitute. They provide a hearty texture and are packed with protein, making them a nutritious choice for this vegan Bolognese.
While you can use various types of lentils, brown or green lentils are recommended for this recipe as they hold their shape well and have a satisfying texture. Red lentils tend to become too mushy.
You can use your favorite sub rolls or baguette-style bread. Look for rolls with a nice crust and a soft interior that can hold up to the Bolognese sauce without getting soggy.
Absolutely! The Bolognese sauce can be made in advance and frozen for future use. Just be sure to store it in an airtight container, leaving some room for expansion, and label it with the date.
You can get creative with toppings like vegan cheese, fresh basil, sliced olives, or a drizzle of balsamic glaze. Customizing the subs with your favorite ingredients is part of the fun!
Yes, you can easily control the spiciness by adjusting the amount of red pepper flakes or other spices you add. Make it as mild or as spicy as you prefer.