When my mum prepares “Pasta e lenticchie”, it is all about broken spaghetti (or pasta mista) and black lentils. As usual I broke the rules combining two popular dishes, ragu and pasta e lenticchie, in one scrumptious main. I love Italian cuisine but sometimes I feel it’s too rigid and way too traditional. Who told you that legumes can’t be mixed with meat (vegetarian meat, in my case)? Don’t you agree that every cuisine can be reinvented and innovated?
Maybe before introducing you to my successful attempt to “innovate” pasta e lenticchie I should tell you something about the original recipe. You’d have all the rights to think “what the hell is Daniela talking about!?!?”, otherwise.
Pasta e lenticchie means pasta with lentils, a dish from Campania (a region in Southern Italy) that is usually prepared during winter. This legume-based dish makes up for a tasty and nutritious main that can be enriched (in my humble opinion) with many ingredients, among which are chopped peppers and vegetarian meat.
In London a wide selection of affordable and up for grabs “meat-free meats” allowed me to experiment with different products and brands. Obviously, not all tasted wonderfully (but all better than the Italian Seitan burger – aka shoe sole – I ate yesterday). As soy sausages are one of my wished-for meat free products, I added them chopped to this yummy pasta sauce that includes juicy red Romano peppers, tomato and red lentils. Super delicious and protein rich!
In case you are not following my “adventures” on Instagram, here is a little note about me. I finally settled down in a cute apartment overlooking the bay of Napoli! Well, “settled down” may be a bit of an overstatement since it is going to be just a month long stay. After Christmas time spent in my mum’s house I was lucky enough to relax in Denmark for two weeks or so (there I enjoyed lots of fantastic pastries). Afterwards, I came back to Italy where I am now (in between Denmark and Italy I spent 1 day in Northern Ireland). After months of travelling and “luggage-dragging”, I feel this stay in Napoli is a progress. At this point, I would have already showed you the city if I didn’t forget the battery charger of my camera (together with all my socks, meh). I am confident I would be able to take some snaps and show you Napoli soon!
Pasta with Lentils and Sausage Ragu (Vegetarian)
- 5 cups water
- 3/4 cup red lentils
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups chopped canned tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 vegetarian sausages
- 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
- 1/2 pound spaghetti or small tubular pasta or pasta mista
- 2 rounded tablespoons finely cut parsley
- In a medium saucepan, bring the water to boil, add the lentils, and cook, covered over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes.
- In another pan add garlic, olive oil, and cook until garlic becomes translucent. Then add tomatoes, chopped sausages, salt and the sliced pepper. Reduce the heat, cover, and continue to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring a few time. Drain the cooked lentils and add them to the tomato sauce. Cook until lentils are fully tender (5 minutes for red lentils, more if you use a different type).
- In another pan, cook pasta in boiling water with 1 tbsp salt. If using spaghetti, you can either use them whole (as I did) or break them into 2- to 4-inch pieces. If using a small tubular pasta, cook the pasta at least halfway in plenty of salted boiling water. Drain the pasta when "al dente" (2-3 minutes before the package directions), add it to the lentil sauce, and finish cooking for a couple of minutes stirring continuously.
- Let stand about 2 minutes before serving. Serve hot, drizzling the best-quality extra-virgin olive oil on top.