Shortcut Lentil Pasta Sauce for #WeekdaySupper

by Dorothy Reinhold on January 28, 2014

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I have my staple ingredients I rely upon to get dinner on the table efficiently during the week, don’t you?

My kids will always vote for pasta, which is fast and easy, but I find if I don’t amp it up with some more protein, everyone is looking for more food after dinner. You know how that is. Nothing annoys a mom faster than having everyone milling around the kitchen shortly after dinner is over, looking for MORE FOOD!

So I often enrich my pasta sauce with ready-to-eat lentils. These come steamed and ready to deploy, and can be found in the fresh produce section or the cold case at grocery stores. Of course you could also use dried lentils, but you will need to cook them longer and add more liquid to the sauce to make up for what they absorb.

Cook’s Trick

For this dish, I’m also employing another favorite technique, which is to put tender greens down in the bowl first, and the hot pasta and sauce on top literally wilt them for you, with no extra pan to wash. Stir a little bit while you are eating, to mix. Ta-da!

Recipe: Shortcut Lentil Pasta Sauce

Summary: Ready-to-eat lentils amp up the nutrition in jarred pasta sauce for a fast weeknight dinner. The hot pasta and sauce wilt the greens.


  • Melissa's Steamed Lentils on Shockingly Delicious12-16 ounces short pasta (penne, gemelli or your favorite short shape)
  • 1 (24- to 26-ounce) jar favorite pasta sauce (I often use Gina Rispoli Arrabbiata Sauce)
  • 1 (17-ounce) package Melissa’s Steamed Lentils (or your favorite brand)
  • 6-10 ounces baby spinach or other tender greens
  • Garnish: Grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.Shortcut Lentil Pasta Sauce |
  2. Meanwhile, add sauce and lentils to a medium pot. Cover and simmer over low heat while pasta is cooking.
  3. To serve, portion baby spinach leaves in the bottom of 4 wide, shallow dinner bowls. Drain hot pasta and immediately portion hot pasta into bowls on top of spinach. Ladle hot sauce over top.
  4. Serve the grated cheese at the table.
  5. Serves 4.


Dorothy Reinhold | Shockingly Delicious

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Diet type: Vegetarian, vegan
Diet tags: Reduced fat
Number of servings (yield): 4
Culinary tradition: Italian
My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 

Throughout the week, you can find the #SundaySupper food blogger team also sharing #WeekdaySupper meals. Getting families back to the dinner table is our mission, and I hope we inspire you to try some of our delicious recipes. You can find them on our Pinterest Boards, too. Please join us there and try something!

This week’s easy Weekday Supper recipes are:Weekday-Supper-Menu-1.27-1.31

Disclosure: Melissa’s Produce sent the lentils for recipe testing. 

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Jean | January 31, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Dorothy, I love lentils and I love the idea of putting the spinach leaves at the bottom of the bowl to be steamed by the hot pasta and sauce on top!


Dorothy Reinhold January 31, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Thanks! It’s a neat little trick.


Tammi @ Momma's Meals January 30, 2014 at 7:14 am

This looks great! I’ve never cooked with lentils before can you believe it! Loving this recipe enough to try!


Dorothy Reinhold January 31, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Oh this will be a painless introduction for you!


Nick January 29, 2014 at 8:14 am

Looks tasty Dorothy! I’ll be making this ASAP! Also, we would love to be added to the #weekdaySupper board! =)


sippitysup January 28, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Lentils (dried form) are a staple for me too. They cook quick and keep FOREVER and ever! GREG


Dorothy Reinhold January 28, 2014 at 3:14 pm

I usually keep dried lentils around the pantry, too. You never know when you want to throw them in a soup or with a rice dish. But I have to say the steamed, ready-to-use lentils are just so darn easy! There is no forethought needed.


takeabiteblog January 28, 2014 at 8:37 am

Lentils are such a good way to add protein to any vegetarian meal. Great idea!


Dorothy Reinhold January 28, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Shaina/Take a Bite,
Agreed! And in a sauce, even those not so sure of lentils won’t complain.


Family Foodie January 28, 2014 at 4:49 am

This sounds so good and so easy. I am going to have try these ready made lentils!


Dorothy Reinhold January 28, 2014 at 7:50 am

Isabel/Family Foodie,
You absolutely must! This is a dinner-saving trick especially on weeknights with sports practice, etc.


Renee January 28, 2014 at 4:01 am

So quick. So easy. And what a great way to use lentils too.


Dorothy Reinhold January 28, 2014 at 7:50 am

Even those who aren’t so sure about lentils won’t complain.


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