Pasta with Lentils & Sun-dried Tomatoes

Every weekend, Stew and I plan our meals. We like to have a mixture of everything–Italian, American, Mexican, Thai, etc. This was our Italian dish for the week. Although I’m not a vegetarian, I don’t like meat in my pastas. So, I decided to throw some lentils in to add that protein kick! These little legumes are often overlooked. But they are SO good for you! They are packed with protein (more than most nuts and beans), and they are so inexpensive! They are super easy to make too! They’re perfect to throw in pastas or salads to add some vegetable protein to your diet!

I know I have professed my love of brown rice pasta! But I am truly addicted. It’s true that a gluten free diet is for people with Celiac disease. But, I say, if something’s not agreeing with you, DON’T EAT IT! Semolina pasta is one of those things that doesn’t sit well with me. So, I’ve been eating this brown rice pasta for years, and I truly don’t taste a difference! More importantly, I don’t feel uncomfortable after eating it!

Now that I’m done with my health rant, I’ll get back to the dish! This meal is so packed with flavor that you won’t miss the meat and the white pasta! The combination of the salty sun-dried tomatoes, sweet basil, and crunchy almonds is enough to sell anyone on this dish. PLUS it’s super easy and inexpensive to make. While you’re boiling the pasta, throw the sauce together in another pot, and then toss it all together! How easy is that (as The Barefoot Contessa would say)?? I wrote in the recipe to reserve pasta water. That’s an important step, because it creates the sauce. Basically, the tomato paste and the pasta water come together and coat the pasta. You can always add more pasta water if it’s too thick! I hope you enjoy!

Pasta with Lentils & Sun-dried Tomatoes
Serves 2

6 oz. brown rice pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated
2 cups baby spinach
1 cup lentils
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup basil, chiffonade*
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup reserved pasta water

Rehydrate sun-dried tomatoes by soaking in hot water for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat dutch oven to medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook one more minute. Add spinach, lentils, sun dried tomatoes, and tomato paste. Cook about one minute until spinach wilts. Using tongs, transfer pasta to the dutch oven and toss to combine. Ladle 1/4 cup of pasta water into dutch oven. Add parmesan cheese and basil. Toss with tongs to combine. Place the pasta in two large bowls. Top with slivered almonds and more parmesan if desired. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.

*Chiffonade is just a fancy word for rolling the basil up like a cigar and making thin slices so you end up with strips of basil.

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