Red lentil pasta sauce

red lentil pasta sauce

This has been a lentil kind of winter so far. I’m completely in love with the little bright red lentil — it goes in everything: pasta salads, green salads, soups (and even raw as sprouts — they’re delicious!).

So, when an accident in the kitchen occurred — tomato sauce spilled into a dish of lentils — an “ah HA!” moment occurred (kind of a “you got your chocolate in my peanut butter” situation).

red lentil pasta sauce 2

Ta Da! Red Lentil Pasta Sauce!

A quick trip to the store, and the potential became reality. A little smoked paprika — which I just adore with lentils — makes for a rich, scrumptious red lentil pasta sauce that’s particularly warming on sub-freezing January nights.

Karen xo

Red lentil pasta sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yellow or sweet onion, small dice
  • 1 rib celery, small dice
  • 1 small carrot, small dice
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup water or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 24 ounces tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium until shimmering. Add the onion, celery, and carrots, and stir until soft. Add the paprika, tomato paste, and a big pinch of salt to the vegetables. Pour in the water or stock and bring to a simmer. Add the lentils, stir, and cover the pan. Allow the lentils to cook for 20 minutes.
  2. Pour in the tomato sauce (get every last bit out of the can(s) by adding water, swishing well, and pouring all into the sauce. Heat until bubbling over medium, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, then taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
  3. Serve over pasta, rice, or quinoa.


  1. The best accidents when you discover a food pair like a hand in a glove. I really enjoy lentil soup. I have not enjoyed the red lentil but no doubt, it would be delicious. the smoked paprika, this my friend is a really nice addition.

    Thanks for sharing.


    • Thanks, Velva – it was a nice surprise, kind of a forehead slap moment. Pasta (usually GF) and sauce is a winter staple, but I often forget how lovely various vegetables (and legumes!) make such lovely sauce (like butternut squash sauce – one of my favorites). It’s nice to mix things up now and then.

  2. Brilliant, Karen. I love happy accidents in the kitchen.
    This is the second red lentil recipe I’ve seen recently, which I think is a sign to pick up red lentils at the store since my pantry only has brown ones right now.

  3. Very ironic – after making a lentil casserole this weekend, I was told that lentils are not a “normal food”.

    Now I know the answer – I just needed to puree them into tomato sauce… Genius.

  4. Sounds yummy, Karen. Do you have the nutritional info for the recipe?

  5. I may have to have this for dinner tonight. It’s kind of calling me….

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