This time of year I start craving hearty and satisfying entrees that warm me up. I love comforting pasta dishes and I love them even more when they are loaded with plant-based protein and vegetables. This recipe sneaks in so many veggies (carrots, zucchini, red bell pepper, onions, tomatoes and mushrooms) but you barely notice them because most are finely diced.
It seems like a lot of vegetables at first but they soften, cook down and eventually blend into the sauce.
There is not a drop of dairy in this dish and I promise you that with all that is going on with this spicy red sauce, you will not miss it in the least. This dish is already bursting with so much flavor.
I love red lentils for so many reasons and in this dish I love how they basically disappear into the spicy red sauce making it creamy and thick. Red lentils add a natural nutty and sweet flavor and best of all they add protein and fiber to the meal. Lentils are an inexpensive and healthful protein source; one serving (a quarter-cup raw) provides 13 grams of protein and is free of saturated fat and cholesterol. Plus, unlike meat, lentils are high in dietary fiber, which aids in digestion. They’re also a plant-based source of iron and a good source of potassium and folate.
For the pasta, I used my all-time favorite gluten-free pasta: Trader Joe’s organic brown rice & quinoa fusilli pasta (but any pasta will do). This sauce also works great on top of roasted spaghetti squash. I hope you enjoy this gluten-free, hearty plant-based meal as much as my family does.
For those of you following eatingbyelaine on snapchat, you may have seen me make this recipe before. It is one of our favorites and I make it frequently this time of year. If you give it a try please rate it, comment below or tag me in a pic on social media so I can see! (#eatingbyelaine / @eatingbyelaine)Print
An easy, spicy (yet slightly sweet) red pasta sauce loaded with veggies and with red lentils for added protein and fiber. Serve this flavorful sauce over gluten free pasta for a healthy, fast and satisfying plant-based meal!
For the red lentils
- 1/2 cup red lentils + 2 cups water and pinch of salt
For the spicy veggie sauce
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups white onion, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1 cup carrots, finely diced or shredded in a food processor
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup mushrooms, chopped (~8 ounces)
- 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/2 zucchini, finely diced
- 2 cups marinara pasta sauce (not plain pureed tomatoes)
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (also known as crushed red pepper)
- 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, diced (or parsley)
For the pasta
- 16 ounces gluten-free pasta (short-cut)
For the lentils:
- In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil over medium heat and add lentils and a pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to low and let the lentils simmer for 20 minutes until liquid is fully absorbed. Set aside.
For the spicy veggie sauce:
- While lentils are cooking, heat a large, rimmed metal or 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil, onion and salt and saute for 5 minutes until onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic and stir frequently for another minute or two. Add carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, red bell pepper and zucchini and saute for 10 minutes stirring frequently. Add the marinara pasta sauce, red chili flakes, maple syrup, tomato paste, pepper. Stir in the cooked lentils and reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
For the pasta:
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Then drain and set aside.
- Stir the fresh basil into the spicy veggie sauce and sample. Adjust seasonings as needed. Add more maple syrup for sweetness, red chili flakes for heat, salt for saltiness, or more fresh basil for depth of flavor.
- To serve, spoon the sauce over the pasta. Serve with any additional toppings, such as red pepper flakes, freshly ground black pepper or fresh basil.
- Gluten-free pasta is best when fresh but the sauce can be made ahead of time if desired and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days. Reheat sauce in the microwave or saucepan. Add a little marinara pasta sauce to thin if too thick or dry.
Recipe inspired by Minimalist Baker’s Spicy Red Pasta with Lentils.
- Category: Entree
- Cuisine: Italian
*This post contains affiliate links. In the case that you would purchase something using the link I provided link, I receive a small commission from Amazon which helps support this blog. I only link to products that I own, love and use regularly.