Spaghetti With Lentil Ragu Recipe

A vegetarian pasta from chef Tessa Kiros. "My friend Anjalika taught me this dish and it is wonderful. The kind of thing I want to make very often, served with a mixed green salad. If you are making and serving the lentils right away, these liquid amounts are good. However, if you will be making the lentils ahead of time, they will absorb water as they sit, so you will need to add a little more water when heating through before serving. Sometimes I like to tear in a little fresh mint with the parsley."


7 oz. small brown lentils
Bunch of fresh sage
1 whole medium clove of garlic, peeled
4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 (14-oz.) can chopped tomatoes
Good pinch of chili powder
2 heaping tbsp chopped parsley
14 oz. spaghetti
Freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, to serve (optional)


Step 1: Rinse the lentils, pick out and discard any hard odd bits, then put in a pot and cover with water. Add the sage and garlic and simmer, partly covered, for 25 minutes or so. Add a little hot water if the level becomes low and season with salt toward the end of the cooking time. Drain, keeping the cooking water.

Step 2: Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saucepan and saute? the onion, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it is sticky. Add the tomatoes, a pinch of salt, pepper and the chili powder. Simmer, mashing down any large lumps, for 10 minutes or so, until the tomato has collapsed.

Step 3: Add the lentils, along with about 1 cup of the cooking water, and simmer, uncovered, for another 10 minutes, for all the flavours to combine. Add a drop more water, if it looks too thick or cook a little longer if too thin. Stir in the parsley and remove from the heat.

Step 4: Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water to al dente. Drain the pasta and serve in warm, wide pasta bowls. Ladle some lentil ragu over each (you may have some ragu left over — I like to serve it with boiled potatoes the next day). Some like this spaghetti with Parmesan, but others insist it should be served without.

See more recipes from Tessa Kiros.

Reprinted with permission from Tessa Kiros’s Recipes and Dreams from an Italian Life (2013 Appetite by Random House).