This healthy red lentil pasta recipe uses pasta that is made from lentils, but you can also use traditional pasta, whole-grain pasta, or even gluten free like brown rice pasta and add lentils to the sauce instead. I’ll show you both ways to make it, depending on what you prefer!
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Why I love this recipe
Red lentils are a nutrition powerhouse and they are so easy to incorporate into pasta dishes! Here I used store-bought red lentil pasta, but you could easily use regular pasta and add 1/2 cup to 1 cup cooked red lentils into the sauce instead. It’s very versatile in that way!
And, I’ve added vegetables of almost every color of the rainbow to maximize the veggie nutrition benefits. This is a great recipe for picky eaters who do like pasta sauce but are not crazy about eating whole pieces of cooked veggies.
My daughter isn’t particularly picky (I got lucky!) but she still prefers a veggie packed red sauce like this to actually eating a serving of cooked veggies.
Veggie Packed Pasta Sauce
The health benefits of lentils are huge! Lentils have protein, iron, folate, fiber, and potassium. This recipe is a good one to use for kiddos who get constipated because of the fiber from both the lentils and the veggies. Regardless of whether you use lentil pasta or add lentils to the sauce itself, just don’t skip out on the lentils, okay?
Plus, tomato sauce is high in vitamin C, which helps with iron absorption. So if your kiddo doesn’t eat much (or any) meat, this is an awesome recipe to get in a good serving of iron.
This makes enough that you should be left with extra to freeze for another meal. I just love when I can add to my freezer stash to bless myself on a busy or exhausted night when I need to just grab something. And yes we use jarred sauce sometimes but I LOVE how this recipe adds extra veggie goodness!
It’s an easy recipe to follow using simple ingredients that will make your kitchen smell amazing! The best part of cooking sauce is the delicious way the kitchen smells, in my opinion! The whole family is going to be excited to eat.
How to make this red lentil pasta recipe
Step 1: Heat a large pot over medium heat with the olive oil. Once hot, stir in the carrot, onion, pepper, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until veggies are soft.
Step 2: Stir in the garlic, Italian seasonings, salt, and pepper. Cook an additional 2 minutes.
Step 3: Stir in the tomato paste, then allow to cook down for 3 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth, scrape the bottom of the pan, and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Step 4: Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, slightly breaking up the tomatoes. Allow to simmer, uncovered for about 30 minutes.
Step 5: While sauce simmers, cook red lentil pasta according to package directions.
Step 6: Transfer sauce to blender; you may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender. Remove the middle portion of the blender lid to allow steam to escape. Blend well. Or, use an immersion blender directly in the pot.
Step 7: Combine the cooked pasta with the sauce. Top with Parmesan cheese to serve, or vegan Parmesan alternative, if preferred.
Step 8: Enjoy!
Which is better lentil pasta or chickpea pasta?
It’s personal preference. If it’s your first time trying them, get both and taste them to see what you prefer. Or, alternate between the two to get slightly different nutrition. Some people do find that their stomach tolerates the red lentil pasta better than chickpea pasta, so if you have a sensitive stomach, you might want to try the lentil pasta first. Both are high in fiber, protein, and iron!
Does lentil pasta taste like regular pasta?
My daughter and I happily eat it, but nothing compares to good ol’ regular pasta. We rotate between the different kinds, so both lentil pasta and regular pasta are pantry staples in our house. Lentil pasta is a great way and healthy way to do pasta night so we can also get in protein and fiber with our bowl of pasta!
Can I use red bell pepper instead of yellow?
Yep! Different colored veggies have slightly different nutrition in them due to the properties that determine their color. So I chose yellow pepper to add another color to the dish, but you absolutely could do red or orange pepper instead.
Can I use vegetable stock instead of chicken?
Can I make this vegan?
Yes! I just had chicken bone broth on hand but to make it vegan, substitute vegetable broth.
Is this lentil pasta recipe good for a baby?
Yes, but leave out the salt, remove a portion of the sauce for baby, then blend salt into the remaining sauce for any older kids and adults. Since lentil pasta is so high in fiber, I would serve just a few pieces to baby if they haven’t had it before to avoid GI issues. Or, use regular white pasta and just add about 1/2 cup lentils to the sauce recipe so it’s not quite as much fiber.
Like I mentioned earlier, you can use regular pasta and then add cooked red lentils to the pasta sauce to blend. I’d start with about a half cup cooked lentils and see how you like it. You can always add more! I would not use brown lentils in this dish because they don’t blend in as well as the red lentils.
- If you’re a garlic lover, add an extra garlic clove or two to the recipe!
- Top with red pepper flakes and fresh herbs like fresh basil and flat leaf parsley
Leftovers: store extra sauce in an airtight container. Freeze for later – I’ve been loving souper cubes lately for freezing sauces, soups, and broth!
For you, mama
Here are more pasta recipes for the pasta lovers!
Red Lentil Pasta with Veggie Packed Tomato Sauce Recipe
Red Lentil Pasta with Veggie Packed Tomato Sauce
- 2 carrots diced
- ½ red onion diced
- ½ yellow bell pepper diced
- 1 rib celery diced
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp garlic minced (2 cloves)
- 1 tsp italian seasoning
- ½ tsp salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- ¼ cup chicken broth
- 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
- 14 oz can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
- 16 oz (1 lb) red lentil pasta
- Heat a large pot over medium heat with the olive oil. Once hot, stir in the carrot, onion, pepper, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until veggies are soft.
- Stir in the garlic, Italian seasonings, salt, and pepper. Cook an additional 2 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato paste, then allow to cook down for 3 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth, scrape the bottom of the pan, and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, slightly breaking up the tomatoes. Allow to simmer, uncovered for about 30 minutes.
- While sauce simmers, cook red lentil pasta according to package directions.
- Transfer sauce to blender; you may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender. Remove the middle portion of the blender lid to allow steam to escape. Blend well. Or, use an immersion blender directly in the pot.
- Combine the cooked pasta with the sauce. Top with Parmesan cheese to serve, or vegan Parmesan alternative, if preferred.