Is pasta e lenticchie a Sicilian speciality, or is it Neopolitan? I’ve seen claims for both. But whatever the origin of this classic Italian lentil and pasta recipe, it’s an easy everyday kind of dish.
By swapping in plant-based milk and dairy-free Parmesan, it’s easy to make an already vegetarian dish completely vegan. Budget-friendly and plentiful, you’ll enjoy having it on your cool-weather rotation.
The only minor tweaks needed to veganize it from the original recipe is to swap in plant-based milk for the dairy milk used customarily, and to serve with a plant-based Parmesan (which is altogether optional).
Lentils are a fantastic source of protein for the plant-based (or really any) diet. For this recipe you can cook them from scratch, or use canned lentils. See more about this small but mighty legume in our Guide to Lentils, where you’ll find more cooking tips and recipe.
And see lots more vegan Italian recipes.
What kind of pasta to use: Chunky, tubular pasta is traditional to this dish — penne, ziti, or, as shown in these photos, mezzi rigatoni. Honestly, it would be just as good with any short chunky shape!
What to serve with pasta lenticchie
This is a filling dish, and you’ll need only a simple salad and/or a green vegetable like broccoli, broccolini, or broccoli rabe to make a satisfying meal.
Photos by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
Yes, this is vegan Parmesan! (Violife)
- 1 cup brown or green lentils (or see shortcut in Notes)
- 16 ounces penne, ziti, or other tubular pasta
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium bell pepper, (any color) diced
- 1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms, optional
- 28-ounce jar good-quality plant-based marinara sauce
- 15-ounce can Italian-style diced tomatoes or 2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 cup plain unsweetened plant-based milk
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Pinch of dried hot red pepper flakes, plus more for serving
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Leaves from several sprigs of fresh oregano or thyme
- Vegan Parmesan or mozzarella shreds for serving, optional
- Rinse the lentils and combine them in a small saucepan with 3 cups water. Bring to a rapid simmer, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape. Drain any excess water. This step can be done ahead of time.
- Cook the pasta according to package direction until al dente, then drain.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium-low heat until the onion is translucent. Add the bell pepper and optional mushrooms continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
- Stir in the cooked lentils, marinara sauce, and tomatoes, and plant-based milk. Bring to a gentle simmer, then cook with the cover ajar for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.
- Combine the lentil sauce with the cooked pasta in a large serving container and toss together.
- Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Add the fresh herb and toss again.
- Serve at once. Pass around vegan Parmesan for topping individual servings, if desired.
Shortcut: Use two 15-ounce cans brown lentils, drained and rinsed. Skip step 1; add them in step 4 with the marinara.
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