Remember my new marinara sauce recipe from earlier this week? I just had to share one of my go-to quick meals to go with it. I’ve been keeping this easy combination all to myself for the past few years, and it’s about time we talk about it.
Here it is: marinara sauce and lentils. I know, it might sound weird at first. But let me tell you, marinara and lentils is a delicious combination. Perhaps you have already encountered it in my lentil baked ziti?
Marinara offers deep, umami-rich tomatoes in irresistible sauce form. Lentils offer earthy flavor and a hearty, Bolognese-like texture. I use French green or plain brown lentils, which retain their shape better than red or yellow lentils.
Just combine marinara and lentils with whole-grain pasta. Ta da! You’ve successfully lightened-up a traditionally carb-heavy pasta dish into a well-balanced, fiber-rich dinner.
The photos here show my homemade marinara with freshly cooked lentils and pasta. All three components are super easy to make.
However, I won’t judge you in the slightest if you want to grab a can of cooked lentils (rinsed and drained) and throw it together with some store-bought marinara and leftover pasta.
Hungry times call for shortcuts and if hearty pasta saves you from a delivery pizza, that’s a win. This recipe reheats well, too, so it’s a great option to pack for lunch. Did I mention that it’s cheap, too?
You’ll find suggested amounts in the recipe below, although the proportions are really up to you. You can’t go wrong. Please let me know how you like this recipe in the comments. I hope it becomes one of your go-to quick meals, too.
Hearty Spaghetti with Lentils & Marinara
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Entree
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
This wholesome dinner features hearty lentils, marinara sauce and spaghetti. This vegetarian dinner is easy to make, affordable and delicious! Recipe yields 4 servings.
- ½ cup dry lentils (French green lentils or regular brown lentils), or 1 ½ cups cooked lentils (leftover or from a can, rinsed and drained)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled but left whole
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups vegetable broth or water
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 8 ounces whole-grain pasta (or 12 ounces, if you like your pasta less saucy than mine)
- Optional garnishes: grated Parmesan or vegan Parmesan and/or chopped fresh basil
- To cook the lentils, first pick through the lentils for debris (I once bit into a tiny rock) and then rinse them in a fine-mesh colander. In a small saucepan, combine the lentils, bay leaf, garlic, salt and broth.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer until the lentils are cooked through and tender, which will take somewhere between 20 to 35 minutes, depending on the age and variety of the lentils. Drain the lentils, discard the bay leaf and garlic, and set the pot aside, uncovered.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to the package directions. Drain, then return the pasta to the pot and set it aside.
- Stir the marinara into the lentils and warm them together over medium heat. Divide pasta into bowls, top with warm marinara and lentils, and garnish with Parmesan and/or chopped fresh basil, if you’d like. Serve warm. Leftovers will keep well, covered and refrigerated, for up to 4 days.
Make it gluten free: Substitute your favorite gluten-free pasta.
Make it dairy free/vegan: Don’t add cheese, or choose a vegan alternative.
Parmesan note: Most Parmesans are not technically vegetarian (they contain animal rennet), but Whole Foods 365 and BelGioioso brands offer vegetarian Parmesan cheese.
▸ Nutrition Information
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.