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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!

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 (18)

(4.18 from 11 votes)
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Lori2 months ago
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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.2 months ago
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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 parker2 months ago
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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!

Peggy3 months ago
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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.

Bibi3 months ago
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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 C6 months 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!

Megan6 months 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.

Lydia9 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!

Brenda10 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

Brenda10 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.

Laura10 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.

Kim10 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 Isik11 months ago
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What type of lentils do you use? Does it matter?

Debbie11 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

Brenda4 months ago
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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.

Laura10 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.

C11 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

Nada11 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 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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