Lentil pasta is a nutritious, tasty, and wholesome traditional Italian recipe called pasta e lenticchie (pasta with lentils) made with ditalini pasta cooked in a rich and flavorful stew.

The recipe is healthy and easy to make, with simple pantry staples in one pot.

It’s a perfect main dish for lunch or dinner; it’s kid-friendly and contains all the macros to keep you healthy and satiated. Plus, it’s excellent for meal prep.

pasta and lentils

Dietary Note: this recipe is suitable for a vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diet.

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What is lentil pasta?

lentil pasta in a bowl

Lentil pasta or pasta e lenticchie is a traditional Italian recipe passed along from generation to generation.

This dish is similar to pasta e fagioli and pasta e ceci; the pasta is cooked with the lentils in the same pot and it turns out ultra creamy

Along with out lentil curry, lentil soup, and curry lentil soup is one of those recipes that will make you feel nourished and comforted at the same time.

While the recipe is hundreds of years old, it could not have been developed any better for modern-day needs, where heart-healthy plant-based foods such as legumes are having a comeback thanks to their nutritious properties and delightful taste.

pasta and lentils

Lentils are the oldest legumes domesticated by humans and are a nutrition powerhouse. You can learn more about them in our guide on how to cook lentils.

They are an inexpensive way of getting all the nutrients you need to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Combined with pasta, they make a tasty and nutritious meal, especially if, like in this recipe, you cook them together in the same pot.

And because most lentil varieties don’t require soaking, you can make pasta e lenticchie for a wholesome weeknight dinner in less than three-quarters of an hour.

Lentil pasta video

Ingredients & substitutions for lentil pasta

Lentil pasta ingredients

Quantities are in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

Pasta

For this lentil pasta recipe, we use regular wheat pasta, not red lentil pasta.

Ditalini pasta is the most traditional pasta shape for this recipe. You can find it in most supermarkets, often from an imported Italian brand like Barilla.

Alternatively, you can use small conchiglie, cavatelli, penne, elbows, or rotini, although that would be less traditional.

Substitute gluten-free pasta to make this dish gluten-free.

Lentils

Use dry green lentils or brown lentils. Pick a small and flat variety so they are more delicate, won’t require soaking, and cook a little faster.

We don’t recommend red lentils for this recipe because they won’t keep their shape. If you have red lentils, make this red lentil soup recipe instead.

Foodie tip: The most traditional lentil variety used in Italian lentil pasta is “lenticchia di Castelluccio,” a small green and brown lentil cultivated around the small town of Castelluccio, on the Appennine Mountains between Umbria and Marche, Italy.

Carrot, onion, olive oil

We make a flavor base with extra virgin olive oil, finely chopped carrots, and onion.

That’s common in Italian cooking (soffritto) and a best practice to add flavor to the recipe.

Optionally, you can add some chopped celery to this mix.

Garlic, rosemary, bay leaves

Garlic, rosemary, and optionally bay leaves add even more flavor and aroma to the lentil pasta.

Substitute fresh thyme sprigs, dry oregano, and sage for rosemary and bay leaves.

Tomato paste

Tomato paste adds color and a rich, savory flavor (umami), enriching this dish and helping create a more persistent taste.

If you don’t have tomato paste, it’s ok. Add a few more cherry tomatoes.

Cherry tomatoes

You can use any small tomato variety, including cherry, plum, and date tomatoes. They add freshness and acidity to the dish.

Substitute a can of crushed tomatoes for cherry tomatoes.

Optionally, add more veggies like chopped kale, spinach, chard, and diced potatoes.

Vegetable broth

We cook the lentils and the pasta in vegetable broth. We prefer it to chicken broth so that the recipe stays vegetarian and everyone in our family can eat it.

You can use store-bought broth or make it yourself.

Substitute water for vegetable broth.

Salt and pepper

Sea salt or kosher salt for taste and freshly ground black pepper for aroma. You can also add a pinch of chili flakes if you like.

Parsley

We add fresh parsley at the end, the Italian flat-leaf variety. It adds freshness, and we recommend it.

Alternatively, fresh basil fits this dish well.

lentil pasta served in a bowl

How to make lentil pasta

1. Start with the flavor base

US cups + grams measurements in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

Gently fry a chopped onion and a carrot with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil for 3 minutes. You can use a large pot, skillet, or dutch oven.

Add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, two to three cloves of minced garlic, a sprig of rosemary, and a couple of bay leaves, and fry for two more minutes, stirring occasionally.

carrot, onion, bay leaves and tomato paste in a dutch oven

2. Add the lentils

Add 4 cups of vegetable broth, 10 to 15 halved cherry tomatoes, a cup of dry lentils (rinsed), a teaspoon of salt, and a few twists of black pepper.

Tip: dry lentils don’t require soaking. However, you should rinse dry lentils in a sieve to wash out dirt and ensure no small stones or debris are mixed with the lentils.

tomato puree and lentils added to the pot

Bring a boil on medium-high heat, then lower the heat, and the lentils simmer in the sauce on medium-low heat for about 20 minutes.

They should be almost cooked but still have a bite. Stir occasionally; the lentils will stick to the bottom of the pot if you don’t.

Tip: different lentils have different cooking times, which vary between 20 and 45 minutes. Smaller and flatter lentils cook faster.

Tip: if you want a creamier texture, blend some of the lentils with an immersion blender before proceeding to the next step.

lentils cooked in dutch oven

Add 2 cups of ditalini pasta and 1 to 2 cups more vegetable broth at this stage. Simmer the pasta with lentils for 10 to 12 minutes until the pasta is al dente.

Stir often to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the skillet, and add more broth if the pot dries out.

Tip: we recommend undercooking the pasta slightly, especially if you don’t serve the dish immediately. The pasta will keep cooking in the pot with the hot lentils.

3. In goes the pasta

pasta cooking with the lentils

When the pasta is cooked, turn the heat off and add the chopped parsley; give it a final stir, taste, and adjust for salt and consistency.

Tip: If you’d like to have pasta with lentils with a soupy consistency, then add more broth and serve it with a spoon.

If you like it denser, like a pasta dish, then simmer until it gets there, and serve it with a fork.

lentil pasta cooked in dutch oven

Serving suggestions

Lentil pasta is a nutritious and fulfilling main dish; a small portion will keep you full for several hours.

You can serve it in a bowl with a squeeze of lemon juice or a sprinkle of parmesan cheese or vegan parmesan.

lentil pasta in a bowl

We recommend eating it as a main dish for lunch or dinner. You can have it on its own or serve it with a side dish of vegetables or with a simple side salad. Here are some ideas:

Variations

Pasta with chickpeas

pasta e ceci in a bowl

Pasta with chickpeas, also known as pasta e ceci, is an easy, family-friendly Italian recipe that is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

It’s perfect to put on rotation with lentil pasta.

Check out our pasta with chickpea recipe.

Pasta e fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli with a silver spoon and garlic cloves

Pasta and fagioli is another comforting traditional Italian meal combining pasta and beans into a flavorful broth with tomato and aromatic herbs.

Check out our pasta e fagioli recipe.

Tips

Lentils are good for you: One cup (200 grams) of cooked lentils provides a whopping 17 grams of protein, 15 grams of super-healthy fiber, and virtually no fat. Included in the price, you’ll get plenty of thiamine, niacin, B6 vitamin, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, copper, and manganese.

They burst with phytochemicals that might protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. In addition, they contain no cholesterol or saturated fat.

No need for soaking: dry lentils don’t require soaking, and you can cook them right away. However, we recommend washing them in a sieve with running water to remove dirt.

Cooking times: different lentils have different cooking times, which vary between 20 and 45 minutes. Smaller and flatter lentils cook faster, so we recommend those.

Storage

Make ahead: lentil pasta is an excellent meal-prep recipe; you can make it up to 3 – 4 days earlier. If you do so, however, we’d recommend undercooking the pasta so that when you reheat it, it’ll still be nice and al dente.

Refrigerator: as you store lentil pasta in the fridge, the pasta and the lentils soak up all the liquids and dry the dish. That’s normal; add some water or broth, stir, and reheat in the microwave or a small pot.

You can store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Freezer: you can freeze this recipe, although the pasta will get mushy once thawed and reheated. If you don’t mind, freeze for up to 3 months.

Thaw and reheat: defrost in the fridge overnight or microwave with a thawing function. Reheat in the microwave for a few minutes or in a saucepan with a dash of water.

More lentil recipes

If you are looking to eat more delicious and wholesome lentil recipes, check out our:

More pasta recipes

For some more pasta ideas, check out our:

For many more pasta ideas, check out our pasta category page.

lentil pasta in a white bowl

Lentil Pasta

By: Nico Pallotta
4.97 from 32 votes
Lentil pasta is a nutritious, tasty, and wholesome traditional Italian recipe called pasta e lenticchie (pasta with lentils) made with ditalini pasta cooked in a rich and flavorful stew.
The recipe is healthy and easy to make, with simple pantry staples in one pot.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 – 6 people
Course: Main, pasta
Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 sprig rosemary or thyme
  • 2 bay leaves or sage
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry lentils green or brown
  • 12 cherry tomatoes halved
  • 6 cups vegetable broth or more if you want a soupier lentil pasta
  • 2 cups ditalini pasta or other short pasta like penne, ditaloni, conchiglie, or rotini
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 twists black pepper
  • 1 handful parsley chopped

Instructions 

  • Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large pot. Add 1 onion and 1 carrot (chopped) and fry for 3 minutes.
    Add 2 cloves garlic (minced), 1 sprig rosemary, 2 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, and fry for 2 more minutes.
    Stir often.
    carrot, onion, bay leaves and tomato paste in a dutch oven
  • Add 4 cups vegetable broth, 1 cup dry lentils (rinsed), 12 cherry tomatoes (halved), 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 twists black pepper.
    tomato puree and lentils added to the pot
  • Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are almost cooked but still have a bite. Stir occasionally.
    Tip: lentils cooking time varies, so taste to check if they are almost done.
    lentils cooked in dutch oven
  • Add in 2 cups ditalini pasta and 2 more cups vegetable broth.
    Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, until the pasta is al dente.
    Stir often to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the skillet.
    pasta cooking with the lentils
  • Turn the heat off and add 1 handful parsley (chopped), give it a final stir, taste, and adjust for salt and consistency.
    lentil pasta cooked in dutch oven
  • You can serve it with a squeeze of lemon or with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
    lentil pasta served in a bowl

Video

Lentil Pasta is an authentic Italian Dinner Idea

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate for one large portion of lentil pasta out of four portions.
STORAGE
Make ahead: lentil pasta is an excellent meal-prep recipe; you can make it up to 3 – 4 days earlier. If you do so, however, we’d recommend undercooking the pasta so that when you reheat it, it’ll still be nice and al dente.
Refrigerator: as you store lentil pasta in the fridge, the pasta and the lentils soak up all the liquids and dry the dish. That’s normal; add some water or broth, stir, and reheat in the microwave or a small pot.
You can store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Freezer: you can freeze this recipe, although the pasta will get mushy once thawed and reheated. If you don’t mind, freeze for up to 3 months.
Thaw and reheat: defrost in the fridge overnight or microwave with a thawing function. Reheat in the microwave for a few minutes or in a saucepan with a dash of water.
ALSO ON THIS PAGE

Nutrition

Calories: 507kcal, Carbohydrates: 85g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Potassium: 917mg, Dietary Fiber: 19g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 3030IU, Vitamin B6: 0.5mg, Vitamin C: 20mg, Vitamin E: 2mg, Vitamin K: 28µg, Calcium: 80mg, Folate: 268µg, Iron: 5mg, Manganese: 1mg, Magnesium: 112mg, Zinc: 4mg
Tried this recipe? Leave a comment below or mention @theplantbasedschool on Instagram. We are also on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and TikTok.

If you liked this lentil pasta, you might also enjoy:


Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




17 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Love these recipes I have only tried the lentil Bolognese so far and it is delicious 😋😋.
    I will check out the other recipes now I am happy with that first one.
    Thankyou for sharing.x.
    Ps if I can make it anyone can.

    1. That’s wonderful, Margaret! Thank you for your kind comment, and your motivational words 💪

      Have a great rest of your week 🙂 Kindest, Louise

  2. 5 stars
    Honestly guys, you taught me how to cook. I tried so many recipes from your website now and all of them turned out fantastic, including this one. I am so beyond happy I found you!

    1. Hi B, thank you for your heartwarming comment – it made our day ❤️

      We are so happy you enjoy our food, and we could help inspire your cooking repertoire a little, thank you for being here.

      All the best,

      Nico & Louise

  3. I saw this recipe this afternoon and made it tonight! It was good, though I added one-quarter cup of olive oil for a more satiating and satisfying flavor. Also added some marinara sauce as I like a very tomato-y lentil dish.

    1. Thanks for the message, Dawn.
      Happy you liked the recipe. Yeah, we like to keep our recipes low on oil but it’s great you added more if you prefer a richer, more satiating meal 🙂
      Have a great day!
      Nico

  4. 5 stars
    This is the third recipe I’ve tried from PBS and another winner. I’ve discovered I love lentils, I can’t get enough of them. Very tasty and filling, will double up next time.

    1. Fantastic, Alison!
      Lentils are amazing – so affordable and satiating, I’m very happy you enjoyed the pasta 🙂
      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment here.
      Cheers, Louise

        1. Hi Sofi, that’s fantastic, I’m so glad you liked it – welcome to our lentil fan club 😉 Thanks so much for leaving a message. Kindest, Louise

  5. 5 stars
    This dish was huge hit for our family lunch today! Approved by vegans and non vegans alike. Thank you for your good work!!

    1. Hi A, I’m super happy to hear that you shared the pasta with your family, thanks so much for coming back to leave a message! Cheers, Nico