You know those days when you just can’t be bothered to cook and you are convinced that there is absolutely nothing in the house worthy of your time and energy? Yeah, me too. I know that feeling all too well if I’m honest. Those are the days that I push myself to cook the most because chances are I have something that I can whip together and chances are even better that it will always end up being better than any kind of takeaway.
That’s how I ended up throwing this recipe together. I had leftover lentils in the fridge from a couple days before and no desire to cook. So I decided if I was going to cook then I was at least going to make pasta because who can ever say no to that? I certainly can’t. I would eat pasta every single day if I could.
I have made a couple of plain red sauces in the past few months for things like ziti and other pasta dishes but what I hadn’t made was my dad’s spaghetti sauce because it’s made with ground beef and I just thought it wouldn’t be the same without it. I decided to tweak it though and to replace the ground beef with lentils. I was pleasantly surprised with how well it turned out. I don’t know how my dad would have felt about it though. He wasn’t picky or anything but probably just more of a traditionalist. Although I don’t blame him because while it worked for this pasta dish I would never ever replace this sauce in his lasagna. That would just be sacrilege.
Anyway, before I get carried away any farther the point to this was if you are looking for a good substitute for a meat sauce this is it. The lentils take on the flavor of the sauce and the spices and give you a little similar texture to meat as well as being an amazing source of protein. Mix it with some whole wheat pasta and a side salad and you have yourself a quick and easy meal on table in no time.
If you do try this or any other recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and don’t forget to take a picture and tag it #modernlittlevictories on Instagram! I’d love to hear what you think and what you create in your kitchen.
Sauce makes 4-6 servings
8 oz rotini
½ cup cooked lentils
1 tbsp olive oil
half of a small onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp basil
1 tbsp oregano
½ tbsp marjoram
1 tsp chili flakes
15 oz can tomato sauce
4 oz tomato paste
salt & pepper to taste
-Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil over medium heat.
-While you wait for your water to boil add oil to a pan over medium heat. Once it’s hot add in the onion cooking until translucent. Add in your garlic being careful not to burn it. Once your garlic is cooked add in all your spices allowing the flavors to bloom. Put in your lentils and combine everything together.
-Mix in your tomato paste followed by the can of tomato sauce. Fill the can with water and add it into your sauce. Stir everything together and turn the heat to low. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes at the minimum. The longer it cooks the more flavorful it becomes.
-Salt your pasta water and add pasta cooking to package instructions or to your own preference. You can reserve some of the liquid from the pasta if you feel like you need to thin out your sauce more.
-Once your pasta is done you can either mix it all in the sauce or serve the pasta and add sauce separately.
-You can only use half the can of tomato paste if you want. It does give it a very, very rich flavor so it’s all up to you.
-If your sauce is too tart sprinkle in a little bit of sugar to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes.
-If you plan on letting your sauce simmer on the stove for a while you might want to add in your lentils later in the cooking process so they don’t become mushy.