Lentil Marinara Sauce

Lentil Marinara Sauce over Whole Grain Penne with Shredded Parmesan and Basil Chiffonade (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Lentil Marinara Sauce. While trying to find a suitable substitute for meat one Meatless Monday evening, I thought about using either white beans or lentils in my pasta sauce. I was making zucchini noodles or “zoodles” and looking for a healthy but “meaty-tasting” sauce. Lentils sounded like an interesting idea.

Lentil Marinara Sauce over Whole Grain Penne with Shredded Parmesan and Basil Chiffonade (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

With an initial puzzled comment of, “What? Lentils?”, my husband absolutely raved about this sauce. Let’s start with how to make it. I use Trader Joe’s red split lentils but you can use your favorite lentils.

Trader Joe's Red Split Lentils (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Trader Joe’s Red Split Lentils (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

It’s basically my “The Best Spaghetti with Meat Sauce” recipe with a cup of cooked red split lentils substituted for the ground meat and the mushrooms omitted. You can keep the mushrooms in the recipe but I removed them for this dish. Saute some onion, carrot and celery in olive oil. Then add garlic and spices. Next, add diced tomatoes, red wine, tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes. Season with some agave syrup, salt, and pepper. Let the sauce simmer a few hours. Then add some cooked lentils to the sauce. Simmer a bit longer. Make some spaghetti pasta and serve the sauce over the pasta with lots of parmesan cheese. For a healthier meal, make some zucchini noodles or zoodles with a Spiralizer.

Marinara sauce chock full of Lentils (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Offer with garlic bread and a nice fresh green salad tossed with my Tarragon Balsamic Dressing or my Low Fat Blue Cheese Dressing.

The lentils are indeed meaty and rich. Your family won’t miss the meat.


From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Lentil Marinara Sauce


2 T olive oil or vegetable stock
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
2 t dried oregano
2 t dried basil
2 t dried thyme leaves
1 t dried fennel seed
1 t dried rosemary
1 t dried marjoram
1 t dried dill
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 c dry red wine
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 can (14.5 oz) tomato sauce
1 T agave syrup or maple syrup
2 t salt
1 t freshly ground black pepper

2.5 c water or vegetable stock
1 t salt
1 c red lentils

4 c zucchini noodles or 1 lb spaghetti pasta
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated/shredded for topping (or vegan parm substitute)


1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, warm the olive oil.
2. Add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until vegetables are soft.
3. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add the dried herbs all at once, and saute with the vegetable mixture.
5. Add the diced tomatoes and cook 3 minutes.
6. Add the dry red wine, and cook 5 minutes.
7. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, agave syrup, salt and pepper. Lower heat and simmer 2 – 3 hours, stirring occasionally so bottom doesn’t burn. Add liquid if necessary, such as more wine, or some vegetable stock/broth.
8. While the sauce is in its final simmering phase, in a small saucepan, heat the 2.5 cups of water or vegetable broth with the 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil.
9. Lower the heat, add the 1 cup of lentils, and cook, covered, until the lentils have softened and the liquid has mostly absorbed. Add the cooked lentils to the sauce and let warm through.
10. While the sauce is warming through, prepare the spaghetti noodles according to the package directions or boil/warm the zucchini noodles until al dente.
11. Drain and plate the spaghetti or zucchini noodles and top with lentil marinara sauce and parmesan cheese.

Serves 4 – 6 as a main course over spaghetti or zucchini noodles. Offer toasted garlic bread and a fresh green salad on the side.

Variations: You can use other lentils such as green ones instead of the red ones. Instead of using spaghetti noodles or regular thin zucchini noodles, make the fatter/thicker style of zucchini noodles that are more like egg noodles.

Get a Spiralizer for yourself! I love mine. Amazon.com offers a number of Spiralizers:

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2015)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

NOTICE OF FULL DISCLOSURE: Some links on this website contain affiliate links through Amazon.com, Pepperjam Marketing, Rakuten LinkShare, and other associated affiliate sites. I MAY receive a small commission but only if you make a qualifying purchase after clicking on my link. These small commissions help pay for hosting and upkeep on A Food Lover's Delight and its sister website(s).

D'Artagnan: Premium Meat, Game & Poultry. Buy Now!

About The Food Lover 398 Articles
A Food Lover and Owner of this Site

Be the first to comment

Tell me what you think!