Vegan lunches can -- and should -- be a lot more interesting than bare salads or carrot sticks and hummus. New Veganism columnist Gena Hamshaw will be sharing inspiration for midday meals that stave off both hunger and boredom.
Today: Bulk up your summer pasta with hearty lentils.
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Zucchini pasta is about as perfect a summer lunch as they come: It’s refreshing, it’s easy to prepare, it’s endlessly versatile (you can add whatever you’ve got at home), and it’s fun to make and eat. It also gets bonus points for being pretty. The thing is, raw zucchini strands don't make for the most filling midday meal, so lately, I’ve been adding either a whole grain (cooked wheatberries or quinoa, mostly) or a legume (lentils, chickpeas, black beans, whatever). The dish is every bit as summery, but just a little heartier.
I’m finding that cooked brown lentils pair really nicely with a simple raw marinara sauce. The one you see above is just a large beefsteak tomato, quartered and blended with half of a large bell pepper, about a quarter cup of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sea salt, pepper, about two tablespoons of olive oil, and a pitted date for sweetness. It’s so easy to make, and it tastes pretty authentic for a sauce that hasn’t simmered for even a minute.
Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.