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  • Prep-time: / Ready In:
  • Makes 4 cups sauce + 3 cups pasta

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!

Hearty Lentil Ragu with Penne on a white plate with a metal fork

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Stir in lentils, tomatoes, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cook 5 to 7 minutes or until sauce thickens.
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Serve lentil sauce over pasta. Garnish with parsley. Serve warm.
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Comments (12)

(4.13 from 8 votes)
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Dalton C1 month ago
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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!

Megan1 month ago
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Excellent. My family loved it and it was so easy to make. It will definitely become part of our regular rotation.

Lydia4 months ago
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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!

Brenda5 months ago
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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

Brenda5 months ago
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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.

Laura6 months ago
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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.

Kim5 months ago
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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!

Tela Isik6 months ago
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What type of lentils do you use? Does it matter?

Debbie6 months ago
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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

Laura6 months ago
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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.

C6 months ago
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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

Nada6 months ago
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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.

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about the author

Darshana Thacker Wendel

Darshana Thacker Wendel is a vegan chef specializing in whole-food, plant-based cuisine. A graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute, she is the author of the Forks Over Knives: Flavor! cookbook, recipe author for the book Forks Over Knives Family, and recipe contributor to The New York Times best-selling book The Forks Over Knives Plan. Her recipes have been published in The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook, Forks Over Knives magazine, and LA Yoga magazine online. Visit darshanaskitchen.com for more.

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