Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pasta with Lentils (or other Legumes)

This was a wonderful discovery: sort of a pasta e fagioli meets lentil stew. It used up some pantry staples and will become part of our repertoire. Bonus: it freezes! You can use cooked beans instead of lentils (white beans would be good), but we really enjoyed the lentils. I used French green lentils (small, dark green) because they hold up better; regular brown lentils will also work, but will probably fall apart more. The entire recipe takes about an hour, but much of it is unattended.

From How to Cook Everything, 10th ann edition

  • 3/4 c. dried lentils, washed and picked over, or 1 1/2-2 cups cooked or canned small beans
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 pound elbows, shells, or other cut pasta
  • 1 t. minced garlic (I used 2 smallish cloves)
  1. Combine lentils, carrots, and half of the onions in a large pot. Pour in enough water to cover and simmer over medium heat until lentils are tender, but not mushy. This took my dark green lentils about 30 minutes; brown lentils won't take as long. Add tomato, half of the oregano, some salt and pepper, and stir and cook for another 10 minutes or so; keep warm over low heat.
  2. Cook pasta in large pot of salted water until almost al dente (you're going to cook it another couple of minutes, so make sure it's still underdone a bit). When done enough, drain and reserve about a cup of cooking water. Don't worry about keeping it warm--you're going to cook it again still, so it can sit out for a bit.
  3. Saute remaining onion in two tablespoons olive oil over medium low heat until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes--stir occasionally (you're going to have all three pots going at the same time, here).
  4. Combination time! This makes a large amount. I reserved half for the freezer before combining (details below if you also won't be able to eat it all in one meal). Add remaining oregano, garlic, sautéed onions, and pasta to the lentil mixture. Add enough cooking water to make it moist. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until pasta is done.
  5. To freeze half for later: take out half of the pasta and let cool in one bowl. Take out half the lentil-tomato mixture and let cool in another bowl. Add half the cooked onions, half the garlic, and half the remaining oregano to the lentil mixture. When all is cooled off, bag up the pasta in one ziploc bag, the lentil mixture in another, and put both of those bags into a third gallon ziploc bag; freeze for up to a few weeks. Thaw overnight in fridge and combine all in one pot to reheat. The pasta will finish cooking while you're reheating it (you may need to add a bit of water).
Serves 8

Serve with a salad, crusty bread, and/or crudite (or just eat it by itself!)

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