Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce with Lentils

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My week in England is coming to an end today. I have had a great time visiting family and perusing the British countryside.  My diet this week has been anything but healthy, but I couldn’t resist dipping into the local fare that I haven’t eaten in years.

I leave early in the morning for my first ever visit to Italy. We will be staying about 30 minutes outside of Rome in a villa.  We will be a huge gang of friends and family out to celebrate my uncle’s 60th birthday.

As you can imagine I am incredibly excited for my visit as I  am a huge fan of Italian food.  All of it.  Whether we eat at the villa or out at a trattoria I am expecting the food to be excellent.

Pasta with tomato sauce is one of the most popular comfort foods in North America, and in many other parts of the world as well. Nevertheless,despite its popularity, it has become one of the most controversial foods in recent years.  The combination of carbs and gluten together seem to be taboo these days.

For those of us who do still dabble in some carbs and gluten, this is my healthy version of pasta with tomato sauce.  Not to worry, still comforting, delicious and hearty.  The lentils make a nice substitute for the traditional bolognese sauce.  Don’t forget the basil, an essential compliment to the tomato and garlic sauce.

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Here is what the spelt looks like when it is cooked.

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You know I love my mason jars. I store my lentils and spelt in mason jars, as well as all my other dry goods. Check out my post on Building a Healthy Pantry  ( if you are curious about what I keep in my pantry) which allows me to be able to whip up a healthy meal at any time.

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Here are a few pictures from my visit in England over the past week.

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Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce with Lentils

2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
700 g jar tomato passata
1/2 cup water, (rinse the passata jar with the water to avoid waste)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
a few sprigs of fresh basil
optional: one chopped dried chili, or chili pepper flakes to taste

1/2 cup french dupuy lentils, sorted and rinsed

1 cup of spelt or wheat berries, or pasta of choice

Note: Don’t forget to bring some water to a boil for your pasta or whole-grain. If cooking a whole grain such as wheat berries or spelt berries, be sure to get these cooking a bit before because they take 40-60 minutes.

1. Cover the lentils with water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil on medium for 20 minutes or until cooked, but still a bit firm. Be sure not to overcook. Be careful because different lentils can take different lengths of time to cook. Drain and set aside

2. Once the lentils are on, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes until onions and carrots have softened.

3. Add the bay leaf, jar of tomato passata, and water. Stir, lay the cover ajar, and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper again if necessary.

4. Add the lentils to the sauce and stir. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.

5. Tear the fresh basil leaves into the sauce.

6. Serve pasta and sauce in bowls, with  more fresh basil leaves torn into the bowl.

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Filed under Blog, Main Courses, Recipes

4 Responses to Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce with Lentils

  1. I didn’t realize you were visiting England! Where abouts are you? Looks hilly so maybe up North, but the pasties make me think Cornwall!
    Love the idea of serving the sauce over spelt berries instead of pasta- I haven’t made lentil bolognese for ages but it’s always tasty.
    Have a fabulous time in Italy :)

    • Health is Happiness

      I was in Alton (Hampshire), Sidmouth (Devon) and Malvern. Visiting family. I hadnt been in years. The Malvern hills are absolutely incredible! Have you been?! Checked out your site. Looks awesome. Might try a version of the Nut Kofte. :)

      • Thanks for visiting my blog :)
        I’ve not been to any of the places where you were. I’ve shamefully seen hardly any of the UK for a UK-resident!

  2. This looks so good–what a great sub for pasta!

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