- 1/2 cup dry red lentils (rinsed in cool water for 1 minute)
- 2 cups water
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (3 cloves yield ~1 1/2 Tbsp)
- 1/4 cup carrots (very finely diced)
- 1/4 cup diced tomatoes (optional)
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce*
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 pinch sea salt (plus more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp red chili flakes (divided)
- 1 Tbsp dried or fresh oregano
- 1 Tbsp dried or fresh basil
- 1-2 Tbsp sweetener of choice (such as organic cane sugar or coconut sugar)
- 1 Tbsp vegan parmesan cheese (optional // plus more to taste)
- 8 ounces gluten-free pasta (I like Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Fussili, or sub carrot noodles)
- Add lentils and water to a small saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium heat, then reduce heat slightly to achieve a mild simmer (not boil).
- Cook lentils to preferred doneness – 15 minutes for a slight bite, 20-22 minutes for more tender lentils. For this dish, I prefer ‘al dente’ so they don’t become mushy.
- When lentils are finished cooking, drain off any excess cooking liquid, season with a pinch of salt, and set aside.
- While lentils are cooking, heat a large, rimmed metal or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil, garlic, carrots and tomato (optional). Sauté for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
- To prevent splattering, remove skillet from heat and add tomato sauce, tomato paste, pinch sea salt, chili flake, oregano, basil, sweetener, and vegan parmesan cheese (optional), and stir to combine.
- Place back over heat and bring to a low simmer over medium-low heat. Once simmering, reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- If serving with pasta, cook according to package instructions at this time. Then drain and set aside.
- Sample pasta sauce and adjust seasonings as needed. Add more sweetener to balance and enhance the flavors: chili flake for heat, salt for saltiness, or more herbs for depth of flavor. If too thick, thin with a little water.
- Add the cooked, drained lentils to the sauce and stir to combine. To serve, either spoon sauce over noodles, or add pasta to the sauce and toss to coat.
- Serve with any additional toppings, such as red pepper flakes, vegan parmesan cheese, and fresh basil.
- Best when fresh. Store leftovers separately in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Reheat sauce in the microwave or saucepan. Add a little water to thin if too thick. I’ve found gluten free pasta doesn’t keep well, so cook fresh for each batch.