Lentil-Tomato Pasta Sauce

When I was first diagnosed with gluten intolerance almost 10 years ago (right after my daughter was born), commercially-made gluten-free pastas were awful. Gummy, mushy, gooey, icky. So, we kind of gave up on pasta. I thought this would be forever. Then, my non-gluten-free sister, Laura, told me about a rice pasta line by Tinkyada that she had found. Miraculously, it tasted good and had good texture. Most folks we serve it to can’t tell the difference between it and wheat pasta. And it comes in all sorts of shapes–even lasagna noodles. Thank goodness.

Because it’s made with rice and water, it does require different handling than wheat pasta. You have to cook it a bit longer than wheat pasta. And, because it’s rice, it puts of a lot of rice starch into the cooking water. This can make the pasta stick together. I have discovered that I need to rinse the pasta well in the colander in hot water (not cold) for about a minute or two while stirring the pasta around. This washes off the starch. I also put about 1/8 of an inch of water in the serving bowl that the pasta goes into after rinsing. I then add olive oil to the pasta and mix it, the pasta, and water together. This creates pasta that doesn’t stick together. One caveat I have for Tinkyada is that their fettucini shape pasta is made for pad thai dishes–so it’s not like wheat pasta fettucini shape pastas.

As for sauces, we like all kinds. One of our favorites uses lentils and tomatoes as a base. There is a local gourmet takeout place in Seattle called Pasta and Co. And the original owner, Marcella Rosene, wrote a few cookbooks based on their food. My favorite is Pasta and Co. Encore. Over the years, many of the recipes have become favorites in our house. Her Lentil (Pasta) Sauce recipe is one I’ve made the most frequently. I’ve made several changes, which would probably put this recipe into the “inspired by” category. It’s yummy and fairly easy to make!

Lentil-Tomato Pasta Sauce
-inspired by Pasta and Co. Encore

Note: this recipe uses an herb mix that was inspired by the herb mix Pasta and Co. sells in their store. They call it House Herb Mix. I’ll call it Italian Herb Mix
-mix 1 tsp each of dried basil,oregano, marjoram, rosemary, pepper. Add 1/2 tsp allspice and mix well
-store airtight container

2 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock (I make my own, but Pacific makes good gluten-free and organic ones)
1 large onion, diced (any type you like is fine)
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup brown lentils (not the French green ones)
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1 tsp finely chopped jalapeno pepper or to taste–I use pickled ones (optional)
1 1/2 cup tomato sauce (equals 1-14 oz can)
1 1/2 tsp Italian Herb Mix
1 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 cup yogurt (optional)

In a large saucepan, bring stock, onion, garlic and lentils to a boil
-cook for about 10 minutes
-add carrots,bell pepper, jalapeno pepper if using, herbs, cumin, salt, and paprika
-add tomato sauce
-cook over medium heat, covered, for about 20 minutes–until the lentils are soft
-you can then simmer for awhile or go on to next step
-remove from heat
-add the yogurt (if using) and mix well

Serve over pasta of your choice


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  1. Steph says

    Hi I’m interested in making this sauce & had a quick question – do you add the tomato sauce in with the carrots, bell pepper, etc? I’m assuming the answer is yes, but just wanted to double-check. Thanks.

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