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  • Prep-time: / Ready In:
  • Makes 6 cups

This quick and easy vegan pasta dish delivers lots of flavor with minimal effort. Lemon juice and zest give the sauce a tangy lift. This recipe can also be made with dark green leek tops for more color and texture; just be sure to slice them very thin.

Vegan penne pasta tossed with artichokes and leeks on a white plate with black rim, sitting on a table in bright sunlight

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon
  • 8 oz. dry whole grain penne pasta
  • 2 cups thinly sliced leeks
  • 1 12-oz. bag frozen artichoke hearts, large pieces halved
  • 1 15-oz. can green lentils (or brown lentils), rinsed and drained (1½ cups)
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • ½ cup chopped scallions (green onions)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boiling. Remove 4 strips of peel from lemon. Add penne, leeks, and lemon peel; cook according to pasta package directions. Add artichoke hearts the last 5 minutes of cooking. Add lentils the last 1 minute of cooking.
  2. Squeeze 2 tablespoons lemon juice into a small bowl. Whisk tahini, garlic, and cracked pepper into bowl with lemon juice. Drain pasta mixture, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Remove and discard lemon peel.
  3. Return pasta to the pot and stir in sauce, scallions, and parsley. Add ½ to 1 cup of the pasta cooking water to the mixture to help coat the pasta with sauce. Reheat gently if necessary. Season with salt and ground pepper.

Comments (23)

(2.69 from 13 votes)
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Michelle6 months ago
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I really wanted this to be good, but it was a fail. There definitely wasn’t enough sauce, the lentils made it taste dry and there wasn’t enough spice/herbs for flavor. I made a “cheez” sauce and that helped a lot. I might try it with a tomato based sauce too. I haven’t given up

Doni6 months ago
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It didn’t have much flavor

Jacquelyn7 months ago
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This recipe would’ve been Bland as hell if I followed the directions. I added gourmet blend of mushrooms and used gluten free pasta. If you are using gluten free last, cook the vegetables Forest the ad the past bc it cooks quick. I would cook it separate from the veggies; used vegetable broth or stock and bouillon with seasoning…onion salt, garlic powder, oregano, and Adobo. I also added shrimp.

Amina7 months ago
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Oh boy. I’m glad I read the comments here before attempting this recipe. I added 1/2 cup nutritional yeast and doubled the amount of lemon juice.. and still this is bland as other commenters have experienced. I added chili flakes and a no salt seasoning mix from Costco and now it’s manageable. But I will never make this again. I HIgHLy recommend if you are reading this review, don’t attempt this recipe. Please.

Dstonekloth10 months ago
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Not good at all. Flavorless. Totally rejected by my husband and teen daughter — and she is the adventurous one who encourages plant based meals. I am not looking forward to eating the leftovers over the next few days. I will need to mix it with some sweet chile sauce or alfredo or something because this is really bad. It’s a nice idea with the pasta, lentils, artichoke hearts and leeks. The end result is awful.

Jan6 months ago
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The recipe would benefit by doubling or tripling the tahini sauce. The end product made as directed was dry.

RayC11 months ago
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To quote my wife: “Honey, you are a really good cook, and you are even a better vegan cook. But, that is one of the worst things I have ever put in my mouth.” Way to strong of a lemon flavor. Under spiced otherwise.

Would not recommend.

Lindsey A Thomas12 months ago
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Okay tried this. Sounded good in theory. Not so much in practice.

I had to add double the garlic. And added almost a half cup nutritional yeast and 2 table spoons extra lemon juice and creole seasoning to give it some flavor.

I even cooked the lintel in veggie stock. I can only imagine how bland it would be if it was cooked in water.

Anne-Louise Desjardins1 year ago
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This recipe is rather bland. But not much is missing. First, it would certainly benefit greatly from 2 cloves of garlic instead of one; secondly, fresh lemon zest, instead of just lemon peel in the cooking water would also bring a lot of pizzazz and flavor. I’m not sure why you don’t use fresh zest with the lemon juice instead of just throwing it away. All the amazingly flavorful aromatic oils are found in the zest, not in the juice! To put it in the cooking water does dilute the flavor and aromas a great deal! So, to me, that’s spoiling the best of a lemon! Also a bit of red pepper flakes would be a nice touch too.

DK1 year ago
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Bland. Used canned brown lentils (2 count) when I could not find green. Recipe was missing something, so given we are not vegan, we topped with Parmesan cheese which improved the flavor.

Leah Brever1 year ago
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Looks really good. I would really appreciate the nutritional information. I am vegan but also very diabetic. That really helps me stay in control. Thank you

Donna K.1 year ago
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Can you please clarify about the canned green lentils? The only canned I have seen are brown. Can brown be used in place of or do you recommend I cook up dry green lentils? If so, what is the dry quantity of green and how much water?

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Hi Donna, if using dried green lentils: Measure out a half cup of dried lentils. Rinse to remove dust. Place in a small saucepan with 1.5 cups water. Bring to boiling; cover then reduce heat to low. Simmer until lentils are tender and water has been absorbed (about 15–20 minutes).

You can also substitute canned brown lentils. To help mimic green lentils’ peppery flavor, you may want to add an extra clove of garlic and an additional pinch of pepper or your preferred seasonings.

Kelly B1 year ago
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This was delicious, very flavorful, and filling.

Adrianne1 year ago
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Sounds like a great recipe that I will definitely try. Can I just confirm that the four strips of lemon peel are added to the water to cook with the pasta? Is this correct?

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Hi Adrianne, that’s correct; the lemon peel is added to the cooking water.

Diane1 year ago
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Following too. I have never seen cans of green lentils. My large store doesn’t even carry cans of brown lentils.

Sherry Mace1 year ago
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I saw canned lentils at a Walmart so it is possible to find some kind of canned lentils. They might have to be a different color?

Jcb1 year ago
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Where do you get canned green lentils?

Barb Lee1 year ago
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Bridgette Russell1 year ago
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Following because I’ve never seen them either.

Blaine Stephens1 year ago
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Tastes amazing! Do you have a recommendation on how to warm it back up for leftovers?

Liz Turner1 year ago
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Hi Blaine, a good trick for warming up pasta is to drizzle it very lightly with water–start with 1 Tbsp. water per 2 cups of pasta. Heat in the microwave for a minute, stir to incorporate the moisture, then microwave another minute or so until heated through. You can do the same on the stove in a covered saucepan, but it will take longer.

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about the author

Mary Margaret Chappell

When Mary Margaret Chappell first started out in the plant-based food world as a writer, editor, and recipe developer, she was a bacon-loving former pastry chef who didn’t think she could ever cook without butter. Fourteen years, four cookbooks, dozens of cooking classes, and hundreds of recipes later, her favorite thing in the world is sharing the tips, techniques, and recipes that show just how easy and delicious whole-food, plant-based cooking can be. The former food editor of Vegetarian Times magazine has done away with her dependency on butter and is honing her skills at baking with natural sweeteners. Chappell lives in France, where plant-based eating can often be a challenge, but the fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes available are simply amazing. Find her on Instagram and Facebook.

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