The Italian name for this deliciousness is Pasta e Lenticchie. The way I see it, this dish should really be called Lentils with Pasta. It is mostly lentils with some pasta thrown in, not the other way around. It is an Italian dish that I grew up eating, my mom cooked this for us all the time. It is traditionally from the Campania region of Italy, specifically the Naples area, which is where my family is from.
I can’t quite decide if this is more of a stew or a soup. I think it is a mixture of both. A stoup! It is quite hearty and as most of you might already know, lentils are super healthy. They are loaded with folate, fiber and potassium and are an excellent source of protein.
I put my own slight spin on this recipe, it is not the exact same one my mother makes. However, it’s very close. I saute my vegetables first in some olive oil (she doesn’t) and I thought to add the bay leaves and thyme. Basically, you make a big pot of the lentils and you store it in the fridge. When you want to eat it, you boil up some pasta and then add the lentils to the pasta. If you add all the pasta into the lentils and store it that way, the pasta tends to get mushy. About the pasta – you can use any small shape you like. Normally, this is made with spaghetti broken into 1 inch pieces, or the little elbows that I used in the photo above. Both are fantastic. I usually get the whole wheat or multi grain pasta.
Once the pot of lentils is made, this is a very quick and easy meal that you can enjoy all week long for lunch, dinner or a comforting snack on a cold day.
Here is what you will need…
2 cups lentils (picked through and rinsed)
3 cups water
3 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
2 medium carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon pepperoncino
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
4 whole peeled tomatoes, chopped with their juice
short/small pasta (shape of your choice)
parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano cheese
Coat the bottom of a dutch oven with olive oil and saute onions, carrots and celery for about 5 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add garlic and pepperoncino and saute for one minute. Add lentils and stir one minute. Add water, stock, tomatoes, bay leaves and thyme and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer , cover and cook for approximately 70-90 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Lentils are done!
For reheating/serving: boil water and cook the pasta until just about done (one minute shy of the directed cooking time). Drain pasta, reserving some of the pasta water. This is important! The lentils thicken up and you most likely will have to add some pasta water to the mixture to loosen it up a bit. Add some lentils to the pasta, as much as you like and depending on how many people you are serving. Stir and cook together for one minute. Turn off heat and add a handful of fresh parsley. I love alot of parsley in this, it really give a nice, fresh flavor. Top with a spoonful of cheese and enjoy!