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Korean Lentil and Zucchini Bolognese
with noodles / pickled cucumbers

Active: 40 Total: 50
Bolognese (which is usually served with Italian meals) is a rich and flavorful sauce that lends itself well to this Korean-inspired twist made with lentils and zucchini. Using the sweet and savory flavors of Korean bulgogi, the sauce is great served over any Asian noodles.
Smarts #1: Make a double batch of Lentil and Zucchini Bolognese tonight and the leftovers will become an easy, fast base for Thursday night's soup.
Smarts #2: This recipe could be made in the Instant Pot. For tips, join the Cook Smarts Instant Pot Facebook Group.


Korean Lentil and Zucchini Bolognese (enough for 2 nights):
  • Zucchini - 1 1/2 lbs , chopped
  • Carrots - 8 oz , diced
  • Garlic - 2 cloves , chopped
  • Stock, low-sodium vegetable - 1 cup
  • Soy sauce, low-sodium - 1/2 cup
  • Gochujang - 2 Tbsp
  • Brown sugar - 1 Tbsp
  • Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
  • Lentils, cooked - 3 cups (use pre-cooked lentils or if cooking from dried, use half the amount of dried and prepare according to package directions)
  • Water - 1 Tbsp
  • Cornstarch - 2 tsp
  • Noodles, ramen - 8 oz , if using Instant Ramen, discard flavor packets (sub any type of Asian noodle like soba or dried udon or use dried spaghetti)
Pickled Cucumbers:
  • Cucumbers - 8 oz , sliced
  • Vinegar, rice - 1/2 cup
  • Sugar - 2 tsp
  • Sesame seeds, white (opt) - 1 tsp


  1. Noodles - (Note: If prepping right before cooking, do the rest of the prep steps and get sauce simmering before cooking noodles.) Cook noodles according to package directions. If making ahead, toss the noodles with some oil to help prevent them from sticking. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  2. Zucchini / Carrots / Garlic - Prep as directed. Store separately. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  3. Make sauce - Combine garlic, stock, soy sauce, Gochujang, and brown sugar. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  4. Cucumbers - Slice cucumbers. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead)
  5. Make pickles - (Note: The longer ahead you make the pickles, the more tart and “pickle-y” they’ll be. You can also wait and toss this together 30 minutes before serving if you’d like them to retain their crunch and just be lightly dressed.) Whisk together vinegar and sugar. Combine cucumbers and sesame seeds in a small bowl or jar. Pour liquid over top. (It’s okay if the cucumbers aren’t completely submerged in liquid, but you want them mostly covered. Add some more rice vinegar if needed.) (Can be done up to 3 days ahead.)

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  1. Heat a wok or Dutch oven with oil over medium heat. Add carrots and saute for 1 minute to get carrots started cooking.
  2. To carrots, add zucchini and lentils and saute until zucchini starts to soften, ~2 minutes.
  3. Pour sauce over zucchini / lentils and stir to combine everything. Bring to a simmer and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes to let the flavors come together.
  4. While sauce simmers, whisk together water and cornstarch.
  5. Pour water / cornstarch mixture into zucchini / lentils and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, until sauce thickens.
  6. Drain liquid off pickles (discard liquid) and season the pickles with some salt.
  7. If noodles were made ahead, reheat in the microwave.
  8. Serve Korean bolognese (reserve half for Thursday) over noodles with pickles on the side. Enjoy!



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