Lentils and tiny pasta

Lentils and tiny pasta

By
From
The Art Of The Larder
Photographer
Mike Lusmore

Lentils and tiny pasta served together, loosened with a little of the cooking water (not a soup, not a stew and certainly not a pasta salad), topped with a blizzard of grated Parmesan, is my pantry staple supper all year round. Cooked down with carrots, celery and garlic, lentils are anything but humble. You could add some diced bacon to the vegetables as they cook, but I rarely bother. Use green or brown lentils for an earthy, peppery bite; red lentils won’t work as well here.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to serve
2 bay leaves
1 onion, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
a few sprigs fresh thyme, sage or rosemary, leaves finely chopped
250g green or brown lentils
250g tiny pasta, stellette, ditalini, tripolini . . .
80g parmesan cheese, freshly grated
a small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves roughly chopped

Method

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan, then add the bay leaves, onion, carrots and celery and cook for 8–10 minutes, until very, very soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute, until fragrant, then add the hard herbs.
  2. Add the lentils and stir until they are coated with the oil and vegetables, then add 750ml of cold water and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils have softened. Keep an eye on the pan and top up with a little boiling water if necessary.
  3. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water as per the instructions on the packet. Drain, reserving about 100ml of the cooking water.
  4. Combine the lentils with the cooked pasta, loosening with some of the reserved pasta water if necessary, and add half the cheese, mixing well to combine.
  5. Add the chopped parsley to the pasta and lentils and mix.
  6. Divide the pasta and lentils between bowls and serve with the remaining cheese and an extra drizzle of olive oil if you like.
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