Tomato Sauce with Lentils

You know those days when you really need to go to the grocery store and you’re scrounging to pull together a decent meal? Spaghetti is a staple pantry item to keep on hand. Whether I am about to go out of town (so I don’t want to go to the grocery store) or I just returned from a trip (and haven’t had time to go to the grocery store yet) or if it’s the end of the month (and I’m waiting to go to the grocery store once the budget refreshes), I turn to my trusted spaghetti recipe with red sauce and lentils.

Everyone enjoys a good bowl of spaghetti, and red sauce is the most common topping. You can use a basic jar of sauce, or simmer up a fresh pot in less than 10 minutes. A can of pureed or diced tomato forms the base of the sauce. Add in fresh or dried herbs of your choice; Italian ragu typically incorporates basil, oregano, rosemary, and parsley. If you’re up for it, simmer diced garlic and onion in olive oil before you add your tomatoes to the pot. 10 minutes later, your sauce will be simmering and your noodles should be cooked al dente.

But when I’m trying to make this meal healthy and nourishing, I add lentils to my sauce. Bonus: lentils have outrageous amounts of protein so they are an excellent ground meat substitute. Plus, they’re cheap. Boil them in water or broth for 20-30 minutes (according to the package directions); drain and stir into your sauce. They don’t add much flavor, so no worries about your picky eaters, but they will nourish your bodies with extra protein.

And there you have a fresh and filling meal with ingredients straight from your pantry. No need to make a grocery store run for this easy dinner!

Yield: 8

Tomato Sauce with Lentils

Tomato Sauce with Lentils

Add protein and texture to your basic tomato sauce using lentils. They will transform a basic pasta dinner into an energizing meal!

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 16 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 14.5 oz can of tomato puree
  • 1 Tbsp basil, or basil pesto
  • 1 Tbsp oregano, optional
  • ½ Tbsp parsley, optional
  • ½ Tbsp rosemary, optional


  1. Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in the bottom of the pot over medium high. Simmer the onion for 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add garlic and simmer for 1 more minute.
  3. Lower temperature to medium low. Pour in tomato puree and herbs. Stir and simmer for 10 minutes.


Don’t have a can of tomato puree in your pantry? Diced tomatoes will work just fine, although you’ll want to blend the sauce using an immersion blender to remove the large tomato chunks.

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