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  • Makes 4 cups sauce + 3 cups pasta
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Want a meal that’s comforting and quick? You’ve come to the right recipe. A seasoned lentil-veggie mixture makes for a satisfying vegan ragu, which gets spooned over whole grain pasta for a healthy, hearty, no-fuss meal.Penne’s diagonal cut makes it great for scooping up sauces, but you can substitute any whole grain pasta you have on hand. Sprinkle everything with fresh parsley, roll out a checkered tablecloth, light a candle, and imagine yourself in an Italian trattoria as you enjoy!

By Darshana Thacker Wendel,


  • 2 cups finely chopped celery
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1½ cups cooked lentils
  • 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1½ teaspoon white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups dry whole grain penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley


  • In a large saucepan combine the first five ingredients (through Italian seasoning) and ¼ cup water. Cook over medium-low about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally and adding water, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, as needed to prevent sticking.
  • Stir in lentils, tomatoes, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cook 5 to 7 minutes or until sauce thickens.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Serve lentil sauce over pasta. Garnish with parsley. Serve warm.

Comments (29)

(5 from 17 votes)

Recipe Rating

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This was very good

Della Barbee

Looks interesting


Thank goodness for the comments. These recipes are consistently so bland on their own. Do the people in the kitchen at Forks over Knives ever actually eat the recipes they post??


Maybe this is just me, but I don't like recipes that say 1 cup or 1/2 cup or whatnot of chopped vegetables. TELL ME HOW MANY VEGGIES I NEED TO CHOP, I don't know how many carrots will get me to 1 cup makes it very difficult to make a grocery list and adds a lot of guesswork for the people trying to follow the recipe. This is my problem again with the lentils, how much raw lentils will get me to 1 1/2 cups cooked??? I certainly don't know and now I have like 2-3 cups of extra lentils that I have to find something to do with. Very frustrating but maybe this recipe wasn't meant for noobs like me ‍♀️ the recipe itself, when I finally assembled it was just ok, kinda bland but nothing a few more spices couldn't fix. Another issue I have with this recipe is that there are no nutrition facts anywhere in sight. That makes it again difficult for me and adds extra work to try and figure out what kind of nutrients I'm getting from this. Probably won't be making this recipe again.


Loved this recipe and it did indeed make a lot, like eight servings at least! Plenty for our family of five plus leftovers for another night. I puréed the veggies to hide them better and also added extra garlic and a bell pepper like I think others had done. It was so filling and yummy. I’m mostly vegan but the rest of my family eats meat and I’m always struggling to find recipes that we all will enjoy. This is a keeper! Yay!


@Bobbie: Take it from an old cook--when in doubt, read the comments section of a new recipe FIRST. This will easily save you all the trial & error if most people double seasonings, etc. They've spared you the trouble of knowing right off what the recipe is lacking...as you ultimately found out for yourself. I'm new to lentils so I Googled the ratio of dry lentils to cooked--it actually doubles by 2 & 1/2 times! If you're just cooking for yourself this recipe is way more than you'd need unless you wanted tons of leftovers. If you only want smaller recipes research "Cooking for one or two." Also, I agree with you on the nutritional count--especially when it's found on a healthy site! Like, I'm here because I want to improve my health--but that can of undrained diced tomatoes may not work for my low-sodium diet! (It's processed--so perhaps listing a low-sodium can would've been better in retrospect.) Or dice up fresh ones instead. You seem to be a new cook--and vegetable size is something you learn with time so don't get discouraged. It's ingrained in me that one medium apple equals almost a cup chopped. But HOW it's chopped also will vary on what equals a cup! Most fruits and veggies are all over the place in size--especially carrots. That's why you'll often find recipes written the way this one was.


Pretty good base to start with. I used a full tablespoon of minced garlic added to the end with the onion mixture. Then I added double the amount called for of Italian Seasoning, red pepper flakes, and nutritional yeast. I also added a 15 oz. can of tomato sauce. I took out a bit of the sauce to freeze and there was more than enough left for the pasta. Delicious!


This was delicious and very filling.


I really enjoyed it. I added another can of tomatoes and a lot more spices. I am not entirely sure how much if that I was supposed to eat. It made a LOT. I think it’s probably enough for 3 meals for me.

Scotty B.

Let's take this recipe, simplify it and make it better through technique and execution all while using just ONE pan - (A wok is nice if you have one). Just take all of your ingredients from the list for the ragu and pasta, and put them in the pan. (Yes, the raw pasta with the raw vegetables and cooked lentils.) So you're really only leaving out the garnish (parsley). Fill the pan with water or veggie stock to just BARELY cover the pasta. (No need to measure water, just barely cover it. NOTE: It is best if you can use hot water already so heat some up in the microwave or use another pot to boil some water or stock - after heated, make sure you only pour enough to barely cover the pasta; Reserve a little bit if you have some left to thin out the sauce if you need it). Let it cook for about 10 minutes. While it cooks, sitr occassionally. -Not too much or too vigorously, because you want the ragu to still have some texture and chunks. You want to let it cook down until there is just a little bit of water left and it should be think and saucy. If it evaporates a little too quickly, add some more liquid as necessary. After the 10 minutes, just before serving you can stir in some Nutritional yeast as your "Cheese" if you'd like. your sauce should be nice and thick and just enough to coat the pasta. Plate it up, add your parsley and serve. What's going on here: The veggies will start to make a flavorful stock in the water or intensify a veggie stock if that's what you're using. As the sauce is being created in the pan, it will flavor up the sauce and the pasta. The stirring will allow the pasta to release it's starches and stirring them will help them bang into each other a little releasing more to thicken the cooking water creating a sauce. It will also break down SOME of the vegetables just a LITTLE bit helping the sauce become flavorful. I hope you give this a try. I think you'll really enjoy it.

barbie parker

I followed your suggestion and really enjoyed it. Took a few others advice. Added the extra tomatoes and extra spices and nutritional yeast! this will be a keeper!


I really liked this method and will definitely make it again. Delicious!

Sasha H

Scotty B's method works great. Makes it an easy one pot meal! The recipe is good, not mind blowing, but healthy, pretty easy, and fairly quick. And my husband loved it. It's a keeper.


Having read some of the comments, I increased the garlic powder and Italian seasoning to 1 1/2 tsp. I also thought it needed more tomatoes, so I added an extra can. I thought it was very tasty and would definitely make again.


Just tried this for the first time, I will definitely make this again. After reading others’ comments, I did increase the seasonings from the get-go. I used extra garlic powder and Italian seasoning, then I added a pinch of red pepper flakes and a nano pinch of smoked paprika. This recipe could easily serve 4 people. Delicious!

Dalton C

This is absolutely delicious if you do it right. Increase seasoning all around, use your favorites. I blitzed my sauce in a blender and I thought that made it was less thick and more sauce like!


Excellent. My family loved it and it was so easy to make. It will definitely become part of our regular rotation.


Pretty good base, but I agree with others saying it lacks a bit of flavor. I fixed that by adding some homemade marinara sauce. Interested to hear how others spruce up this solid recipe!


I followed Kim's advice and sweated the onions before adding the carrots, celery and spices. In retrospect, it would've benefited from a few minced garlic cloves added for one minute between near the end of the onions' cooking. The sauce was very chunky and never going to thicken, so I employed an immersion blender at the very end to whiz about one third of the sauce into a true sauce. Another time I might consider blending the whole pan. Overall, not much flavor, but filling


By the way, the prep time assumes you have someone else as sous chef to chop and dice everything. It was more than an hour for me to do everything to double this recipe for my husband and I to have two meals.


How many servings is this recipe supposed to make? If it is 2, they are HUMUNGOUS. Also, the sauce seemed to take a lot longer to cook than the recipe predicted - it was well over 10 minutes and the onions still tasted raw. Granted, my pot was bigger than the burner it was on, but I don't think that should have affected it too much. Aside from the undercooked vegetables, this was a decent recipe.


The cooking instructions are not very well written. You should always cook the onions first. If you "sweat" them before you add the liquid, you will have much better flavor and no crunchy onions. To re-write this recipe, I would say cook onions on med-high heat adding a splash of water or broth to keep from burning. When onions start to become clear, add celery and carrots. Cook for 2-3 more minutes. Then add liquid. This applies to basically any recipe. Hope this helps!


This makes a ton of sauce. very tasty after 1) letting the veggies cook for much longer than recipe says 2) adding crushed red pepper, some sun dried tomatoes, some roasted red bell pepers, 3-4 cloves of minced garlic 3) waited to add cooked lentils and bleneded the veggie & tomato sauce with immersion blender till loosely combined, not too chunky and not totally smooth 4) topped with large handful of fresh herbs: parsley, oregano & basil.

Tela Isik

What type of lentils do you use? Does it matter?


Loved the sauce. My lentils though where not very good not sure what I did wrong. I think it need cheese any suggestions? Was not crazy about the wheat penne any suggestions. I am try very hard to follow you but do many of your recipes are for several people. I am a widow trying to eat better but not like left overs for days. Any suggestions? Thank you. Happy New Year


Hi Debbie, I would suggest halving the ingredients recommended. This should give you generally about two servings (depending on the individual recipe), meaning you will have a leftover meal (or two instead of several meals) for the next day. To go even further, if you like cooking fresh meals daily, you could quarter the ingredients and this will give you closer to meal size for one person.


Debbie, for "cheese" flavor, people use Nutritional Yeast. I don't care for it, but ... you might? I also cook just for myself. Many times I cut recipes in half, other times I simply freeze portions which gives me no-cooking days


Did you cook the lentils in advance? If not, this recipe does not have anywhere near a long enough time to cook them adequately. I just used regular penne and it was pretty good.


Hi Debbie. I don't like whole wheat pasta, but Tinkyada brown rice pasta is great, and whole grain/whole food. Your local store may have it, and you can get it from Amazon. It's the only pasta I use.

About the Author

Headshot of Darshana Thacker

About the Author

Darshana Thacker Wendel

Darshana Thacker Wendel is a whole-food, plant-based chef and former culinary projects manager for Forks Over Knives. A graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute, she is the author of Forks Over Knives: Flavor! She created the recipes for Forks Over Knives Family and was a lead recipe contributor to the New York Times bestseller The Forks Over Knives Plan. Her recipes have been published in The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook, Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook, Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health, and LA Yoga magazine online. Visit DarshanasKitchen.com and follow her on Instagram for more.
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