Pasta e Lenticchie is a one-pot Italian dish made with pasta, lentils, and a few other ingredients. This Italian pasta dish is high in protein and can be a great meal for a meatless dinner.
Pasta with lentils recipe
This pasta and lentil dish is one of my favorite vegetarian meals. Everyone loves it, even my husband who asks for meat at every meal.
It combines the earthy flavor of brown lentils with perfectly cooked small pasta creating a comforting and hearty meal.
First, the lentils are cooked until tender with sauteed vegetables and tomato paste. Then, I add small pasta and cook it until it; is slightly softer than al dente.
You can make it vegan by serving it with a drizzle of olive oil or vegetarian by adding some grated Parmesan cheese.
I have made this dish with both red and brown lentils a lot of times. You can use any type of lentil to make the recipe.
But I recommend using brown lentils. Brown lentils are better for this dish as they hold up the shape and have a slight bite after being cooked. Red lentils break down during the cooking process resulting in a creamy texture.
If you do not have lentils on hand, this Italian pasta and peas (pasta e piselli) is a great alternative.
When I have fresh herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, or oregano, I like to add some to the pot for extra flavor.
You can find the ingredients' quantities in the recipe card below.
Brown lentils - I recommend using brown lentils. You can also use green ones. Red lentils will be too creamy for this dish, but you can still make the dish using them.
Vegetables - you will need a small onion, a medium carrot, some celery (optional), and a few garlic cloves.
Pasta - I recommend using Ditalini pasta or other types of smaller pasta.
Olive oil - some for sauteing the vegetables and for serving (optional).
Tomato paste - always add tomato paste, or tomato puree (passata to the dish. It will be not as good without it.
Salt and black pepper - I usually add some salt to the pot while cooking the lentils and adjust it later to taste.
Water or broth - water works great, if you have vegetable broth you need to use - it will make the dish even more rich.
How to make Pasta e Lenticchie
Dice carrots, celery, onion, and garlic cloves as shown below. Rinse brown lentils a few times.
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced carrots, celery, and onions (not the garlic). Saute the vegetables until soft stirring often for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or until the garlic releases the aroma.
Then, add rinsed brown lentils and 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Cook everything for another 2-3 minutes stirring often, as the garlic can burn easily.
Frying the tomato paste briefly before adding liquid is a known cooking technique to enhance the flavor, richness, and complexity of the dish.
Now, add water, salt, and pepper to the pot with cooked lentils. Stir it, to make sure there are no ingredients stuck to the bottom of the pot. Bring it to a boil, turn the heat on low, and simmer the lentils covered for at least 20 minutes.
Once the lentils are tender, add pasta and enough water to cover the pasta, as lentils will absorb most of the water. Bring it to a boil and cook uncovered over medium-low heat, stirring often for about 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.
Serve the dish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, extra black pepper, and grated Parmesan cheese.
- Brown lentils are the best for making this recipe.
- Use smaller pasta with holes in the middle, Ditalini is a good choice.
- Always saute vegetables before adding the lentils.
- Once you add pasta, keep an eye on the dish in case it needs more water.
How to store and reheat
Store any leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for about 2-3 days.
You can reheat the pasta in the microwave or on the stove, For the best results, reheat the dish in a small pot with a little bit of water over the low heat.
Pasta and lentils are a perfect main dish on their own. It is balanced, filling, and satisfying with only grated Parmesan on top. I love to drizzle mine with a good quality of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper, it really brings the dish to the next level.
You can serve it with fresh bread and a simple salad.
More Italian recipes
Pasta With Lentils (Pasta e Lenticchie)
- 1 large pot
- 1 Measuring Cup
- measuring spoons
- 1 cup brown lentils
- 1 cup Ditalini pasta, or other small pasta
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ½ onion
- 1 carrot
- 2 ribs celery
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 5 cups water, or more as needed
- 1 Tablespoon (optional) shredded Parmesan cheese for serving
- 1 Tablespoon (optional) olive oil for serving.
- Rinse lentils a few times under cold running water. Dice onion, carrot, celery and garlic.
- In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onion, carrot and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add chopped garlic and cook for another minute or until garlic becomes aromatic.
- Add rinsed lentils and 2 tablespoon tomato paste to the pot. Briefly fry everything over medium heat constantly mixing and stirring it to coat the lentils with oil and tomato paste.
- Add 3 cups of water and salt. Bring lentils to a boil and simmer on low heat for about 20-30 minutes or until the become tender.
- When lentils are cooked, add pasta and another cup of water enough (if needed) to cover the pasta. Stir well, scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent the ingredients from burning.
- Boil over medium heat for another 10 minutes or until the pasta it cooked to your liking. Divide between plates, drizzle with some olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese.