Red Lentil Pasta Sauce

Author Notes: As much as we love meat sauce for pasta, we often will do this meatless version - packed with protein and fiber, it's extremely inexpensive and carries a real punch. If you're not into a little spicy, omit the crushed red pepper in this one. We serve it over spaghetti with a side of spinach garlic bread (mom always told me to eat my spinach!). Blend it smooth and use it as a marinara sauce or add chicken or vegetable broth and make a great soup or gazpacho by adding some fresh veggies.inpatskitchen

Makes: about 2 quarts


  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 28 ounce can of good quality tomatoes, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 to 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 5 or 6 leaves sliced fresh basil
  • Cooked pasta
  • Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling over each serving ( optional )
In This Recipe


  1. Place the celery, carrot, onion, bell pepper and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture is pretty finely ground ( like a sofrito ).
  2. In a 4 to 5 quart pot heat the olive oil, add the processed mixture with the crushed red pepper, basil, oregano and fennel seed and saute for a few minutes until soft and fragrant.
  3. Add the tomatoes and lentils and stir.
  4. Add the salt and pepper and 3 cups of the water, bring up to the boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. If after the 30 minutes the sauce seems too thick, add another cup of water and continue to simmer another 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. If you like, blend the mixture a little with an immersion blender, just enough to thicken the sauce.
  7. Stir in the parsley and fresh basil just before serving over cooked pasta.
  8. NOTE: Blend until smooth for a smooth marinara sauce or add broth and veggies for an easy gazpacho or soup.

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