Pasta with Lentils

Considering that it's supposed to snow tomorrow, and yesterday was jam-packed for me (read back-to-back meetings). I'll end this week, with a filling, healthy meal great for cool weather. It's tasty, simple, and filling - another good one for the hungry teen, who approved this meal.

Pasta with Lentils
Serves 4-6
Adapted from Food Network Magazine, October 2011 Issue

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
½ onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth SS: I used veggie broth
½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus 1 piece cheese rind (optional)
8 ounces orecchiette or other small pasta
2 14-ounce cans lentils (1 undrained; 1 drained and rinsed)
⅓ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt
Crusty bread, for serving (optional)

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is slightly soft, about 2 minutes. Remove 1 tablespoon of the flavored oil and set aside. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes. Add the chicken broth, 4 cups water and the cheese rind, if using. Bring to a boil, then add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add the lentils along with the liquid from one of the cans; reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the pasta is tender, 10 to 12 more minutes.
2. Meanwhile, whisk 1 tablespoon parsley and 1 tablespoon water into the reserved flavored oil. Stir ¼ cup parmesan and the remaining parsley into the soup; remove the cheese rind (if using) and add salt to taste. Ladle into bowls; drizzle with the flavored oil and top with the remaining ¼ cup parmesan. Serve with bread, if desired.

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