Let’s face it – life is busy. Even if you love to cook, some days there just isn’t time to spend an hour in the kitchen. Meals that come together fast are a necessity, and bonus if you probably already have the ingredients in your pantry. Enter “lentil helper”, a mixture of pasta and red lentils that is packed with protein, and cooks up quick to leave you with a satisfying meal in about 25 minutes. You can top this mix with whatever sauce you like, but today, I’m going to share my recipe for a Cheesy Tomato Lentil Helper that uses a blender cashew-cream sauce. And if you’re nut-free, don’t fret; sunflower or hemp seeds can be used instead of cashews.
You can use whatever pasta you like for this: I like macaroni or bow tie pasta, but penne, rotini, and fuscilli are all great options. Don’t sub out the lentils; red lentils cook quickly and are easily made in the same pot as the pasta, unlike other lentils which take much longer to cook. I boil the red lentils for 3 minutes before adding pasta to the cooking water, and both come out perfectly tender.
I really like peas in this too, but you could probably use broccoli, carrots, green beans – whatever you have on hand in the freezer. Skip the add-ins all together and serve it beside a salad. Or don’t; there’s no rule that says EVERY meal has to be balanced…
This lentil helper is perfect for busy nights or when you just need something healthy in a hurry. Also perfect for the perennially lazy.
Cheesy Tomato Lentil Helper
- 8 cups water
- 2 cups short cut pasta such as macaroni, rotini, fuscilli
- 1/2 cup red lentils well-rinsed
- 1 cup frozen peas
For the Sauce
- 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
- 1/4 cup cooked chickpeas
- 2 individual garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup cashews use sunflower or hemp seeds to make it nut free
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil over high heat.
Add rinsed lentils, and keep boiling for about 3 minutes, then add pasta, reducing the heat. Stir occasionally to prevent lentils and pasta from sticking to the bottom. Prepare your sauce while the lentils and pasta are cooking.
When the pasta and lentils are close to done (about 8 minutes, depending on your pasta), add peas, and continue to cook until lentils and pasta are tender, and peas are hot. Strain out the water, and put back into the pot to be combine with the sauce.
To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a small, high speed blender jar, and blend until smooth. Pour over cooked pasta, lentils, and peas and serve.