This is an easy, wholesome, vegetarian family meal that elevates the standard pasta meal with proteins. Your kids will love it and not even care that it’s healthier ;). Definitely goes into our weekly rotation.
Using store bought pasta sauce saves an extra step here that frankly no one will notice. These three are my favorites: Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil, Del Grosso’s Marinara sauce or Rao’s Homemade.
My favorite secret ingredient is smoked paprika. It gives it a smokiness and a more depth, but just a dash, so it’s not overpowering.
Additional variations include adding in other veggies like mushrooms or zucchini. My son especially likes using Rotelle (wheel-shape) or Fusilli (spirals) because they are easy to pick up with a fork. Otherwise, I like using linguini.
You can also use zucchini, squash, or sweet potato spirals or use gluten-free pasta of course, to make this a gluten-free meal.
Lentil Bolognese Pasta (Vegetarian)
- 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and some for finishing
- 1 pat butter
- 1 shallot or small onion (minced)
- 2 carrots (cut on the round or diced)
- 1/2 cube veggie broth (I use low-sodium vegetarian broth)
- 3/4 cup lentils (rinsed and drained) (Black/beluga, red or Puy/French)
- 1 tsp dried basil (optional)
- 1 tsp dried oregano (optional)
- 2 cups water
- 1 jar marinara sauce (26oz) (I like Trader Joe's Tomato Basil or Del Grosso Marinara Sauce)
- 1 dash smoked paprika
- 1 box pasta (I like De Cecco Fusilli or Rotelle)
- parmesan (for finishing)
- Heat a large sauce pan or rimmed skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, butter, shallot, and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until slightly softened and fragrant. Turn down heat.
- Add in the 1/2 cube of bouillon, mashing it in
- Add in the lentils, dried basil and dried oregano and fry together for a minute to get coated
- Add in the 2 cups of water and let mixture come to a boil, then turn heat down to medium low and cook for about 25 minutes or until al dente (see your lentils' package). Most of the water should be cooked off/absorbed by the lentils.
- While the lentils are cooking, in a separate, large pot, boil water for pasta, following the package directions. Save one cup of pasta water before draining pasta.
- When lentils are about cooked, stir in the jar of the marinara sauce and turn down to low heat.
- Add in a dash of smoked paprika (optional)
- In the same large pot for the pasta, drizzle some oil over the pasta. (Add back some of the pasta water if dry.) Combine the sauce with the pasta and mix throughly.
- Top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
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