Pasta With Lentil “Bolognese”

by Amy on 29 November 2012

Some of you may know that at the beginning of 2012, I set a little challenge for myself. I called it my One New Dinner A Week Challenge, + as you may have guessed, it entailed making one dinner each week that I had never made before. While the challenge was easy in a way, since there are millions of new-to-me recipes floating out there, it was difficult, too – finding the inspiration AND time to make 52 new dinners in a year proved to be *quite* challenging some weeks.

The great news? Through this self-imposed challenge, I’ve discovered some truly amazing recipes – ones that have now become staples in our household, that I never would’ve tried otherwise. This meatless recipe is one of those gems. It’s a quick, easy, + healthy weeknight dinner that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare + was a huge hit. I worried that my meat-and-potatoes-lovin’ husband might not dig it, but he was all raves about how great it was. It’s incredibly hearty, rich + full of flavor, a stick-to-your-bones comfort food type of meal.

And excitingly, I think i will successfully finish my One New Dinner A Week Challenge for 2012! Only 5 new dinners and 4 1/2 more weeks stand between me + victory. Fingers crossed that I can do it!!

Pasta With Lentil “Bolognese”

serves about 4, adapted from the kitchn


1 pound short pasta of your choice – i used small shell pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2 roma tomatoes, seeded + diced
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can lentil soup – i used Amy’s Lentil Soup
3tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
salt + pepper, to taste
freshly-grated parmesan cheese + chopped parsley, for serving


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to the package directions, stirring occasionally.

While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic + onion; cook until fragrant, translucent, + softened, 4-5 minutes. Add the tomato, stir, + cook until it releases a little moisture, about 3 minutes.

Add the lentil soup + tomato paste, stir well, + cook until heated through + bubbling. Remove from the heat, add the balsamic vinegar, + salt + pepper to taste.

When the pasta is done, drain, toss with a tiny bit of olive oil, + return to the pot. Stir about half of the lentil mixture into the pasta (so the pasta is well-coated in sauce.) Then, divide the pasta between 4 bowls, and top each bowl with a quarter of the remaining lentil mixture. Top with a generous serving of freshly-grated parmesan + chopped parsley. Stir, and enjoy!

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kathryn November 29, 2012 at 6:12 am

such a great idea for a challenge, I may do something similar next year. what a great way to find and try delicious new recipes like this pasta sauce which sounds awesome!

2 amy November 29, 2012 at 6:20 am

All in all, I’m incredibly happy I did the challenge + i highly recommend you trying it! I *may* do it again for 2013 if i’m feeling ambitious come January!

3 Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar November 29, 2012 at 6:34 am

Mmmm sounds lovely!

4 Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious November 29, 2012 at 7:38 am

I totally want to try your One New Dinner A Week Challenge! And this “bolognese”? Amazing! I just recently tried lentils, which I absolutely love now, so this dish here is just screaming my name! Plus, I’m sure it would be perfect for work leftovers!

5 amy November 29, 2012 at 7:54 am

i can confirm that it makes some seriously awesome leftovers. i adore leftovers since i work from home + don’t always want to run out for lunch, + i looooved having this for lunch for a couple days after i first made it!

6 danielle November 29, 2012 at 8:05 am

My hubby is the same – if this worked on yours maybe it will work on mine. We do both love lentils.

7 sarah k @ the pajama chef November 29, 2012 at 9:52 am

what a great use for lentils!!

8 angela @ anotherbiteplease November 29, 2012 at 2:42 pm

oh my gosh I love this idea!!!!!! I am so excited to make this…and good luck with the remainder of your challenge :-)

9 Karen (Back Road Journal) November 29, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I think challenging yourself to prepare new dishes is great. Your pasta dish must have been terrific.

10 Jed Gray (sportsglutton) November 29, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I’d probably be with the man of the house initially on this one, but I can see the brilliance of this dish. Fire it up!

oh and congrats on nearly making it through one new dinner a week for a year. I can’t even remember that last time Liz and I ever remade a dish in a few months let alone a week. I think we need to mix things up. :-)

11 ea-the spicy rd November 29, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Great challenge and looks like a great recipe too! I had already pinned another lentil bolognese recipe to try, so I will have to try both and compare :-) And, congrats on meeting your challenge!!

12 amy November 29, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Do report back on how you like the other lentil bolognese – i might have to try that one, too!

13 alexandra @ sweet betweens [blog] November 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm

smart use for lentils. love ’em with savory, spicy tomato sauce! question – is the balsamic identifiable in the finished product? wondering if I can sneak one over on the husband, or if I should omit it.

14 amy November 29, 2012 at 4:34 pm

i’d say the balsamic is noticeable, albeit subtley, in the final product. i love balsamic, so i enjoyed that sweet/tart/sour note from it, but if your hubster doesn’t like the flavor, i’d say omit it!

15 Choc Chip Uru November 29, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Healthy and very delicious job my friend 😀

Choc Chip Uru

16 natalie@thesweetslife November 29, 2012 at 5:15 pm

given my recent obsession with lentils, this is going on my ‘to try’ list!

17 Renee November 29, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Great recipe…if only my husband would like lentils. I’ll have to save this recipe to make for a night he is working or to share with friends. It does look quite delish!

18 Ashley - Baker by Nature November 29, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Amy, your photos are STUNNING! Oh, and I’m coming over for dinner… 😉

19 amy November 29, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Thank you so much, Ashley! I’ve been working on improving my photography so that makes me happy. =)

20 Amy (Savory Moments) November 29, 2012 at 6:27 pm

This sounds like a great challenge! I try to make new things each week, but that’s sometimes easier said than done. These is a very interesting sauce. It looks really good.

21 Meghan November 29, 2012 at 8:12 pm

That was a big challenge and you’re owning it! Love, love, love this dish!

22 Blond Duck November 29, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Totally making this Saturday with the new quinoa pasta I bought. I’ll be a foodie’s dream. :)

23 amy November 29, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Ooh, i love how healthy it will be with the quinoa pasta! I still need to find + try that stuff!

24 Hayley @ The Domestic Rebel November 29, 2012 at 9:27 pm

you’d never guess that has lentils instead of meat in that! what a great way for me to trick my family into eating healthier :) and to save money, yay!

25 Ashley @ Kitchen Meets Girl November 29, 2012 at 10:39 pm

This is a great idea! I actually love lentils, so what a perfect way to sneak them in on my hubby! :-)

26 Jen L | Tartine and Apron Strings November 29, 2012 at 11:51 pm

This is so brilliant! Why haven’t I thought of making lentil bolognese? I’m always on the lookout for novel ways to include legumes in our diet. Sadly, we haven’t been eating a lot of legumes, and with it many health benefits, we should! Thanks for sharing this divine recipe!

27 Anna (Hidden Ponies) November 30, 2012 at 12:49 am

This sounds so good, and I love that you managed to stick to your challenge! Such a great way to find new favourites :)

28 Beth November 30, 2012 at 4:41 am

Congratulations – that’s a really worthy goal. I wouldn’t have a problem coming up with new recipes to try, but it’s just easier to make the same thing all the time, isn’t it? I do try a couple of new recipes a month, and overall I’ve been thrilled with the new family favorites I’ve found.

29 amy November 30, 2012 at 8:50 am

It’s definitely easier to just make the same things over + over, but I’m glad I stretched myself to try so many new recipes!

30 Lesley Eats November 30, 2012 at 11:16 am

I love this! So easy, too when you use soup. I assumed from the title that there would be dried lentils involved. I love a good shortcut!

31 amy November 30, 2012 at 11:42 am

Yes! I have another version pinned that uses dried lentils but I didn’t have enough time to make that one, hence this shortcut version. I love it so much, I might not even try the more labor-intensive one now. =)

32 Bernadette @ Now Stir It Up November 30, 2012 at 12:22 pm

I love using lentils in place of meat. This is a great idea I’ll have to try!! I like your idea of a new recipe every week. Sounds like a new years goal… :-)

33 Erin @ Texanerin Baking November 30, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Okay, I had to look up what lentils are. I wish I liked beans. :(

Congratulations on almost completing your challenge! Must be nice to finish such a thing. :) I’m kind of a failure at those things. Unless my challenge is to eat only sweets all day and no veggies. Then I’m good.

34 Jackie @ The Beeroness November 30, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Beautiful job Amy!

35 Kristi @ My San Francisco Kitchen November 30, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Great recipe, and gorgeous photography! :)

36 Whitney @ The Newlywed Chefs December 1, 2012 at 11:59 am

What an awesome challenge! You go!

37 Nicole @ Lapetitebaker December 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm

I love the sound of this challenge! It would take me out of my dinner rut. I made lentil sloppy joes about a month ago and I wasn’t impressed. However, I think this pasta would be better because of the canned lentil soup. Dried lentils are hard to make.

38 The squishy monster December 3, 2012 at 12:43 am

I always enjoy your pasta dishes and this is no exception—love the lushness of this sauce =)

39 sally @ sallys baking addiction December 3, 2012 at 7:33 am

Amy, i always enjoy your quick, easy dinner recipes. i should have placed more challenges and goals for myself both personally, in my full-time job, and with my blog – it always helps motivate me to succeed!! i will have to do that in 2013 – you got me thinking of my own blogging goals! congrats and i know you can make it the next 4.5 weeks :)

PS: this dish looks fabulous, as per the usual.

40 amy December 3, 2012 at 8:45 am

Thank you, Sally! This was actually the first year (since college at least) that i set a tangible, measurable goal for myself for the new year. i’m so glad I did – you’re right – it is SO motivating. I need to start thinking about what i’m going to set for my 2013 goal!

41 Rachel Cooks December 3, 2012 at 11:24 am

I’m very intrigued by this!

42 Regina @ SpecialtyCakeCreations December 4, 2012 at 11:20 am

Oh Amy, you have me in acute pasta-deprived cravings right here. There is so little of it in Asia. We grew up on pasta and bolognese but I also love lentils. So I totally have to try this.

43 Anne December 4, 2012 at 11:54 am

I love that challenge! I try to cook new recipes on weekends and when i stick to it I am always so thankful i did!

Using lentils to make bolognese is brilliant! I’m no vegetarian but lentils are without a doubt one of my favorite foods and sound amazing for bolognese!

44 Nancy/SpicieFoodie December 4, 2012 at 11:55 am

Congratulations on completing your challenge! Your pasta sounds really good. I love lentils and this is a great way to try them in a new way. Thanks for sharing and can’t wait to try your recipe.

45 Monet December 5, 2012 at 8:52 am

Such a great challenge! Congrats on making it to the finish! And this “bolognese” would satisfy me any night of the week! It is so good to visit your blog again. I’ve been quite sick the past month…and with moving on the near horizon, my blog-reading has gone to the wayside. But I am very glad to be back! I hope you have a beautiful week!

46 amy December 5, 2012 at 10:25 am

I’m so glad to have you back, Monet, + hope you’re feeling better. Good luck with the big move soon – I know it’ll be all for the best!

47 Nicole @ The Marvelous Misadventures of a Foodie December 5, 2012 at 10:55 am

Amy you’ve got your One New Dinner a Week 2012 challence in the bag! You’re weeks away and I think victory is yours :)

I love that lentils are a fake out for the meat here – such a fun idea! My husband sure does like his meat, but sometimes with recipes like this I can trick him..

48 amy December 5, 2012 at 11:41 am

Thank you, Nicole – I do feel like I’m going to dominate the challenge! =)

49 Nik@ABrownTable December 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm

I love your combination of pasta and lentils. Congrats on completing the challenge too, your recipes are so innovative and tasty.

50 baking Serendipity December 5, 2012 at 7:50 pm

I need a challenge like that in my 2013. This would be one of the first recipes I’d make :) Love the lentil swap!

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