Monday, December 31, 2012

Red Lentil Pasta Sauce

Savory cinnamon dishes are delightful, especially in winter. I got this recipe from a cookbook my grandmother gave me, Complete Vegetarian Cuisine by Rose Elliot.


  • 1 large onion -- chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves -- minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or basil (optional)
  • 8 ounces red lentils -- washed
  • 15 ounces canned tomatoes
  • 2 cups water -- or use up to 1/2 cup red wine and the rest water
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 ounces pasta. The original recipe calls for tagliatelle verde (spinach pasta.) I prefer linguine myself, when I can't find tagliatelle verde.


  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, cinnamon, and optional herbs and cook for 10 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for about 5 minutes.
  2. If you're using wine, add it to the pan at this time, stir, and let it come to a simmer. Then add the lentils, tomatoes, and water and bring to the boil. Let the mixture simmer gently for 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  3. I recommend pureeing the sauce at this point, especially if you have a stick blender which makes pureeing so convenient. The truth is that although this recipe calls for 1/2 pound of pasta I usually go ahead and cook a whole pound. Pureeing the sauce makes it go further.
  4. Around the end of step 2, bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta.

How to Make Happy Pasta

I was recently watching an Italian cooking show, and the woman said that the reason Italians cook their pasta al dente is that they add the pasta to the sauce and let it cook for another minute or so, absorbing the flavor. This is a good idea. Another good idea which I heard on another cooking show is to take a small amount of the pasta cooking water (after the pasta has been cooked) and add it to the sauce. The pasta cooking water has starch in it which helps to thicken the sauce. It's especially nice in a recipe like this one, because lentils are good at absorbing extra water.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Happy New Year!

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