Pasta and Lentils


Yields: 4-6 servings
vegetarian, lentil


Originally adapted from this recipe.


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • Kosher salt (Diamond Crystal) and black pepper
  • 1 cup brown or green lentils
  • 3 thyme sprigs (optional)
  • 3 fresh or dried bay leaves (optional)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, cut in the can with scissors
  • 10 ounces tubular or ridged pasta, like penne or radiatore (or use long noodles broken into pieces)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving


  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add 5 cups of water, the lentils, the thyme and bay leaves (if using). Partially cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are al dente, 25 to 30 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and 1 teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil over high. Add the pasta and cook, stirring often to keep the pasta from sticking to the pot, until the pasta is al dente, 10 to 20 minutes. (It may take longer than the cook time on the package.) If the pot starts to look dry at any point, add more water, ¼ cup at a time.
  3. Turn off the heat, discard the thyme and bay leaves, then stir in the Parmesan. Cover and let sit for 3 minutes so the flavors meld and the sauce thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Eat with more Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.