I’ve had a lot of experience (truly…you would never believe) eating lentils in my life by way of Indian cuisine and my mom’s cooking. However, I’ve never taken the esteemed opportunity to put them into a pasta dish, and now here we are.
The idea for this recipe is that it’s pantry-staple friendly, meaning you can ideally use ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. The lentils here work as meat would in a traditional bolognese, providing substance and heartiness but keeping it all veg.
I wanted to a create a tomato sauce that was reminiscent of an arrabbiata as well, so this dish definitely has a kick from the red pepper flakes and honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you aren’t about the spicy life, feel free to tone the spice down and up the dried oregano instead.
Spicy Lentil Bolognese
- 8 oz pasta of choice
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1/2 cup cooked lentils I used green, but you can use what you have on hand. Feel free to sub with veggie crumbles or ground meat if that's what you have in your pantry!
- 28 oz canned, crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 large carrot, shredded finely
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- handful fresh basil
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Salt water and cook pasta as directed. Drain, and reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water. In a saucepan, heat olive oil.
Add onions and garlic, and sauté until onions translucent and both the onions and garlic are beginning to brown on the edges. Season with salt and pepper.
Now, add the red pepper flakes and toast them with the onions and garlic for a few minutes so they get fragrant and brown slightly.
Add the tomato paste and cook it with the onions and garlic for a few minutes so that it becomes dark red and fragrant.
Add finely shredded carrots to the onions and cook together until carrots have started to soften, about 5 minutes.
Now add canned, crushed tomatoes and the dried oregano. Cook, bringing the sauce to a boil, then reducing to a simmer for about 25 minutes, until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add cooked lentils and basil and cook in the tomato sauce for a few minutes. Add pasta. Stir so the sauce coats the pasta well. Serve with some freshly ground black pepper, and fresh basil.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and when you make it, tag me at @dadaeats on Instagram so I can see your creations!