Warming, tasty and nutritious, this easy lentil pasta bake makes a simple but substantial vegetarian dinner that the whole family will enjoy.
“Mummy, mummy, put this on your blog!”
So spake my daughter Kipper, after trying this deliciously hearty lentil pasta bake. And who was I to argue?!
I must admit, I was a little surprised by her reaction. I didn’t expect her to be so taken with a dish of lightly spiced, tomato and lentil pasta. I’d made this as a prepare-ahead dinner and my focus had largely been on ease and nutrition, rather than on making a super-tasty, massively appealing dish. Apparently though, you can have both. What luck!
Lentil pasta bake – with OLIVES!
The trick was putting olives and garlic into the sauce. Kipper LOVES olives, and is also quite keen on garlic. I expect these things helped her to overlook the fact that she’s not a big fan of lentils, and won’t usually eat tomatoes at all unless they’re heavily disguised. The olives, garlic and seasoning ensured this lentil pasta bake was deeply flavoursome, rich and savoury – delicious!
Rich and warming
The grown ups were also won over! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and even DH ate a big portion of yummy lentil pasta bake. The sauce is very tasty and the whole dish warms you up from the inside. Just what’s required at the moment. Be extra-generous with the cheese if you want to make it really melty and indulgent.
Lentil past bake – a make ahead dinner
One of the things I love about pasta bake is that you can make them ahead of time, and just bake when you’re ready to it.
This tomato and lentil pasta bake was made in advance and then left in the oven with the timer set, so we returned home to a hot, delicious, dinner. The house smelled amazing when we opened the front door – I love it when that happens.
Lentil pasta bake ingredients
This delicious lentil pasta bake was made almost entirely with store cupboard staples like pasta and tinned tomatoes, plus things I always have in the house, like onions and olives. Chances are, you’ll have everything you need to make this delicious dinner without any special planning! To make this easy pasta bake you will need:
- tinned chopped tomatoes
- tomato puree
- olive oil
- crushed chilli – optional but even a tiny bit adds flavour
- salt and pepper – to season
- grated cheese for the top
- green lentils – of course!
I used dried lentils and cooked them separately before making the rest of the bake. However you could just as easily use ready-prepared tinned or frozen lentils to shorten the preparation time. I usually have a tin of lentils lurking in the pantry for just such an occasion.
Nutritional benefits of lentils
As well as being an excellent source of plant protein, lentils are also an inexpensive source of numerous vitamins and minerals. They contain plenty of folic acid, as well as iron and B vitamins, which can sometimes be lacking in a vegetarian diet. Lentils also contain the important minerals potassium, zinc and manganese.
Lentils are naturally low in fat, and are a good source of dietary fibre, which helps to maintain gut health.
We ate three generous portions of tomato & lentil pasta bake for dinner, and I had the leftovers for lunch next day. Serves 4.
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Lentil pasta bake with tomatoes, garlic & olives
- 75 g small green lentils (raw - see notes)
- 1 small onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 15 pitted black olives, sliced
- ¼ tsp crushed chilli
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 175-200 g short pasta
- 65 g grated cheddar cheese
- Rinse the lentils. Place in a saucepan and cover with plenty of cold water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 45 minutes. Drain.
- While the lentils are cooking, make the tomato sauce. Peel and slice the onion. Peel and crush the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan and cook the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes until starting to soften.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, olives and chilli to the pan. Mix well, cover and reduce the heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 25-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling water according to the directions on the packet. Drain.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Combine the cooked lentils, tomato sauce, and cooked pasta, and mix well. Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle the grated cheese over the top.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and golden. Serve at once.
More delicious recipes using pasta and lentils
Other delicious pasta bake recipes include unctuous cheesy parsnip pasta bake, simple but tasty broccoli, tomato & salmon pasta bake with crispy garlic crumbs and hearty and filling mushroom, pepper & veggie sausage pasta bake.
Or if it’s lentil recipes you’re after how about easy roasted butternut squash and red lentil soup, rich and delicious lentilles vertes with mushrooms & spaghetti, or gently spiced mejadra – Middle Eastern lentils and rice.