This warming and spicy Red Lentil Veggie Pasta is filled with carrots, zucchini, bell pepper, and lentils. It's as nutritious as it is flavorful and delicious! My whole family loves it and it's a weeknight regular around here.
As soon as the weather cools just a little bit I start craving hearty and satisfying entrees that warm me up. I gravitate towards comforting pasta dishes and I love them even more when they are loaded with plant-based protein and vegetables! This is a dish that my family requests over and over again. It's a Red Lentil Veggie Pasta that's a regular in our weeknight meal rotation! It's filled with vegetables diced small and cooked with lentils and spices to create the most satisfying red pasta sauce. You'll fall in love!
Ingredients in Red Lentil Veggie Pasta
This Red Lentil Veggie Pasta sneaks in so many veggies! Most are finely diced, and it seems like a lot at first but they soften, cook down, and eventually blend into the sauce. There is not a drop of dairy in this dish, and with all that is going on with this spicy red sauce, you will not miss it in the least! It's already bursting with so much flavor.
- Carrots - Carrots offer dietary fiber and they’re high in beta-carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A!
- Red onion - Onions add SO MUCH flavor to recipes while staying low in calories! They also contain fiber, vitamin C, folate, and potassium.
- Bell pepper - Bell peppers contain beta carotene and vitamin C. Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds and keep teeth and gums healthy, and beta carotene benefits your immune system, vision, skin health and bone health.
- Zucchini - Zucchini is high in vitamins A and C as well as manganese, copper, and folate. It's great for hydration as well thanks to a high water content!
- Fresh garlic - Garlic is low in calories and rich in vitamin C, manganese, and antioxidants. Many people use garlic to boost their immune system, help prevent colds, and even lower blood pressure.
How to Make Spicy Red Lentil Veggie Pasta
I like to make this dish in my Dutch oven on this stovetop! This gives me plenty of room for all of these veggies, lentils, and spiced goodness to get flavorful and perfect.
- Start by heating it over medium heat and add oil, red onion, salt, and pepper. Give the onions enough time to get soft and translucent!
- Add the garlic and give it another 2 minutes before stirring in carrots, bell pepper, and zucchini. Keep stirring for 5 minutes, then add crushed red pepper and liquids: tomato paste, maple syrup, marinara, and water. Pour the lentils in, stir it well, and bring everything to a boil.
- Turn it down to a low simmer and let it cook uncovered for 30 minutes until the veggies are soft and fork-tender. While this is cooking you can make the pasta!
All About Lentils
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, 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.
The Best Gluten-Free Pasta
Any pasta will work in this recipe! I always choose gluten-free pastas with short and simple ingredient lists. My favorite brands are Jovial and Andean Dream. I also love Trader Joe's Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli Pasta. Check out my Ultimate Gluten-Free Product Roundup for more resources and recommendations! This sauce also works great on top of roasted spaghetti squash.
This is one of our favorites and I make it frequently this time of year! It's vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, and made without refined sugar. If you give it a try please drop a review below or tag me in a picture on social media so I can see! I hope you enjoy this gluten-free, hearty plant-based meal as much as my family does.
More Tasty Pasta Dishes
Vegan Chickpea Bolognese Pasta
Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Garlic Pasta
Vegan Creamy Pasta Primavera
Creamy Vegan Pasta al Limone
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
The Best Vegan Mac n Cheese
Parsley-Pea Pesto Pasta
Vegan No-Boil Pasta Bake
Chunky Tomato Basil Spaghetti
Vegan Baked Feta Pasta
One-Skillet Baked Butternut Squash Pasta
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 lentil veggie sauce
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large red onion, finely diced
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 large cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced (or pressed through a garlic press)
- 1 cup baby carrots, finely diced (1 ¼ cup when finely diced)
- 1 large red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, finely diced (1 cup when finely diced)
- 1 large zucchini, ends removed, finely diced (1 ¾ cups when finely diced)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ tablespoon maple syrup
- optional: ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (for added spicy flavor)
- 28 ounces marinara sauce (I love Rao's)
- 1 cup filtered water
- ½ cup red lentils
- Garnish: ¼ cup fresh basil, diced (or sub parsley)
For the pasta
- 16 ounces gluten-free pasta (short-cut) [or sub zucchini noodles]
For the red lentil veggie sauce:
- Heat a 5.5 quart dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil, red onion, salt and pepper and saute for 8 minutes until onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic and stir frequently for another 2 minutes. Add carrots, red bell pepper and zucchini and saute for 5 minutes stirring frequently.
- Add the tomato paste, maple syrup, crushed red pepper flakes and stir well to fully coat the veggies.
- Add marinara sauce, water and red lentils. Stir well and bring to a boil. Then turn the burner to a low simmer. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes stirring occasionally until veggies are fork tender and lentils are cooked through. While you are waiting start the pasta (see below).
For the pasta:
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions. For best results salt your pasta water with ½ tablespoon salt. When pasta is finished cooking, drain and set aside for serving.
- Once the red lentils and veggies are fully cooked, stir the fresh basil into the red lentil veggie sauce and taste. Adjust seasonings as needed.
- To serve, spoon the red lentil veggie sauce over the cooked pasta. Serve with any additional toppings, such as red pepper flakes, vegan Parmesan cheese, and/or fresh basil. Enjoy immediately while hot. Store leftovers once fully cooled in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
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 five days. Reheat sauce in the microwave or saucepan. Add a little marinara pasta sauce to thin if too thick or dry.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Category: Entree
- Cuisine: Italian