May 30, 2020
Feeds 3 (hungry people)
Hi there. It's a rainy day here in Seattle. The world is suffering from so many different things. It certainly can get to you some days. When I'm feeling blue, well, sometimes I just let myself have the moment, or hours, or even the day to be in that. Other times I have the spark to do something that might help me shift it. It could be a yoga class, going for a walk in the park, talking with a friend, or planning and making something delicious. But as you know, sometimes that motivation just ain't there.
What can I make for dinner when I just have zero cravings? When I don't know what I want? When I don't want to prep or chop or think about a darn thing. When my to do list is now a to do nothing list? Often, I turn to this simple lentil pasta recipe. I make it at least twice a month. You can make in under 30 minutes and trust me, it's not lacking in flavor and WILL satisfy. If you don't live near a Trader Joe's (I love you TJ) it might be more difficult. If you do, buy a package of their cooked lentils. They are located in the cold section usually near the packaged salads. Otherwise, just try to find some pre-cooked and pre-seasoned lentils. Or, feel free to cook the lentils from scratch which really doesn't take long at all.
1 lb pasta of your choice (I like a shorter shape for this)
1/2 package Trader Joe's lentils
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 C EVOO
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 C tomato sauce/tomato paste (optional)
Splash of chicken or veg broth
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a pot of water to a boil and add enough salt so it tastes salty. Like the ocean. If not add more salt.
In a sauté pan large enough to accommodate the finished pasta, add the olive oil and turn the heat to medium-low. Add the garlic cloves and cook until they are golden brown. Sprinkle the red pepper flakes in as well, along with the tomato sauce/paste if you have it and want it, and let that cook a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the garlic cloves, unless you like to eat them with your pasta. I do not. Add 1/2 package of the lentils to the pan and put the rest in the fridge to use next week when you want to make this again, which you probably will.
Throw in some healthy pinches of salt and some grindings of pepper. This is when you can add a splash of broth. I have made this without broth as well and it turned out fine. These lentils are already cooked so at this point you are really just warming them up and helping them take on the other flavors in the pan. You can turn the heat down to the lowest setting or even turn it off.
Meanwhile, cook your pasta but not all the way. Subtract about 3 minutes from the package directions ensuring the pasta is a bit more than al dente and could still use some additional cooking. This will happen in the next step.
Retain 1 C of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the sauté pan and toss with the lentil mixture to combine. Turn the heat up to medium and add some of the reserved pasta water.
Continue tossing, tasting, and incorporating more pasta water until the texture of the pasta is perfectly al dente. Well, hey, that's how I like mine. If you like your pasta softer than cook it longer. Adding that hot, starchy, pasta water will help to cook the underdone pasta, obviously, but it will also create a creaminess to the sauce, allowing it to cling to the pasta as opposed to just sitting on top of the noodle. Make sense? Let's say, they become one. Yes? I'm a dork. But, this is SO SO good so I feel justified in my dorkiness.
Spoon the pasta into your serving bowls and add the cheese. I often grab a handful of arugula and add that to my bowl, drizzle with EVOO and I'm in heaven!