Sometimes, you just need a hearty, comforting pasta dish, especially in the midst of winter.
This recipe does the trick, delivering on flavor, simplicity and heartiness.
This red sauce is spicy, bold, and infused with red lentils for added protein.
Plus, it’s vegan and gluten-free, and it comes together in just 30 minutes. Shall we?
This recipe is inspired by my Simple Chickpea Bolognese. If you haven’t tried that recipe yet, you must! It’s hearty, filling, and a new spin on classic bolognese. Plus, carrot noodles for the win!
I’ve wanted to make a dish with red lentils for a while now, because they’re tender, slightly sweet, cook quickly, and pair especially well with sauces and soups. Not to mention, they’re rich with health benefits, including iron, fiber, folate, and protein.
The sauce itself is incredibly simple, relying on a base of garlic, carrots, and tomatoes for flavor and texture. Next comes tomato paste and sauce for rich tomato flavor. And spices like red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, and sea salt bring it to life. Serve with gluten free pasta for a seriously delicious and hearty plant-based meal.
I hope you love this pasta! It’s:
This would make the perfect meal when you’re craving something quick, healthy, and filling, making it ideal for weeknight meals. And because it’s so flavorful and protein-packed (33 grams protein per serving!), vegans and meat-eaters alike will love it.
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a picture #minimalistbaker on Instagram! We’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!
Spicy Red Pasta with Lentils
- 1/2 cup dry red lentils (rinsed in cool water for 1 minute)
- 2 cups water
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (3 cloves yield ~1 1/2 Tbsp)
- 1/4 cup carrots (very finely diced)
- 1/4 cup diced tomatoes (optional)
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce*
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 pinch sea salt (plus more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp red chili flakes (divided)
- 1 Tbsp dried or fresh oregano
- 1 Tbsp dried or fresh basil
- 1-2 Tbsp sweetener of choice (such as organic cane sugar or coconut sugar)
- 1 Tbsp vegan parmesan cheese (optional // plus more to taste)
- 8 ounces gluten-free pasta (I like Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Fussili, or sub carrot noodles)
Add lentils and water to a small saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium heat, then reduce heat slightly to achieve a mild simmer (not boil).
Cook lentils to preferred doneness - 15 minutes for a slight bite, 20-22 minutes for more tender lentils. For this dish, I prefer 'al dente' so they don't become mushy.
When lentils are finished cooking, drain off any excess cooking liquid, season with a pinch of salt, and set aside.
While lentils are cooking, heat a large, rimmed metal or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil, garlic, carrots and tomato (optional). Sauté for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
To prevent splattering, remove skillet from heat and add tomato sauce, tomato paste, pinch sea salt, chili flake, oregano, basil, sweetener, and vegan parmesan cheese (optional), and stir to combine.
Place back over heat and bring to a low simmer over medium-low heat. Once simmering, reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
If serving with pasta, cook according to package instructions at this time. Then drain and set aside.
Sample pasta sauce and adjust seasonings as needed. Add more sweetener to balance and enhance the flavors: chili flake for heat, salt for saltiness, or more herbs for depth of flavor. If too thick, thin with a little water.
Add the cooked, drained lentils to the sauce and stir to combine. To serve, either spoon sauce over noodles, or add pasta to the sauce and toss to coat.
Serve with any additional toppings, such as red pepper flakes, vegan parmesan cheese, and fresh basil.
Best when fresh. Store leftovers separately in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Reheat sauce in the microwave or saucepan. Add a little water to thin if too thick. I've found gluten free pasta doesn't keep well, so cook fresh for each batch.
*Tomato sauce is pureed tomatoes that are pre-seasoned with spices like garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano, and is different than plain puréed tomatoes. Adjust the sauce if using crushed tomatoes or purée by adding more seasonings to taste (i.e. garlic powder, dried or fresh basil and oregano, sea salt and sweetener of choice)
*Recipe adapted from my Simple Chickpea Bolognese.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with gluten-free pasta and without additional toppings.
Nutrition Per Serving (1 of 2)
- Calories: 778
- Fat: 11.3g
- Saturated fat: 2.2g
- Sodium: 1100mg
- Carbohydrates: 138.6g
- Fiber: 30.9g
- Sugar: 20.8g
- Protein: 33.3g