I’m not sure if this was a dish on the original Yom Kippur table when they were breaking fast thousands of years ago, but lentils with pasta has always been on the Wolfson table that evening. We had a guest over during the occasion last month and he has been hounding me to post this recipe ever since. The best part is that he isn’t Jewish, so it wasn’t like he was fasting all day long and would’ve thought anything was delicious at that point– he was just hungry for dinner, as usual, and was blown away by this simple, yet flavorful dish.
There was a point when my mother made this dish so much when I was a little girl that I could hardly look at lentils, so it took me a few years to get back onto the lentil bandwagon. Despite my personal protest, my mother taught me how to make this meal and I am so grateful that she did because it is now one of my favorites.
Now that summer is a thing of the past, I am really trying to make the most of it by cooking fall/winter friendly recipes such as pasta e lenticchie. It is very easy and cheap to make while doubling as a figure-friendly dish! For my super-skinny variation, I make Lenticchie e scarola, aka lentils with escarole. I leave out the pasta and in its place add a 1/2 – to 1-pound head of escarole, chopped or shredded. This variation will have a soupier consistency.
Lentils and pasta are a traditional pairing in Italian cooking, and most of the regions in the southern part of the boot enjoy pasta con lenticchie in some form, usually in soups. In the future, I will post a variation of this dish where the lentils are cooked with other vegetables into a sauce that served as a delicious dressing for rigatoni. It was excellent that way—this sauce seems to me even more delightful as a dressing for whole-wheat or barley pasta.
I’ve been to restaurants before where orriechetti (also known as “little ears” macaroni) is used in this dish, but in my family, we always used Capellini, also known as capelli d’angelo (angel’s hair), broken into 2- or 3- or 4-inch lengths. I prefer using this very thin pasta and I love it because it cooks so quickly. Be warned: This is not soup. It should be very thick and it is eaten with a fork.
- 3 TBS olive oil
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can or jar or tube of tomato paste (6 oz)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 bag of lentils
- 1- 14 ounce can of tomato sauce
- 1-2 cups water
- 1 lb of capellini pasta, broken into 3 inch pieces or Fideo Cut Spaghetti
- Heat olive oil in pot over medium heat.
- Add minced or pressed garlic, cook for a few minutes, but be careful not to brown.
- Add tomato paste, then put the stove on a on low flame. Watch carefully stirring frequently for 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, bring another pot of salted water to a boil for the lentils. Once it comes to a boil, add lentils and simmer for about 30 min.
- Add the lentils to the pot with tomato paste and stir. Add the tomato sauce and additional water to the consistency that you want, 1-2 cups.
- Check the salt and pepper. Add if needed.
- Boil salted water for pasta. I usually use capellini and break it into about 3 inch pieces, but there is a new pasta that I found out there called Fideo Cut Spaghetti that is perfect because it's already broken all up. Drain and put the pasta in a serving bowl and add enough lentil mixture to keep it from sticking together. Put some in a soup bowl and add more lentils. I keep some of the pasta and the lentils separate so that the pasta doesn't suck up all of the liquid.