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This Italian pasta with lentils is one of the best nourishing meals you can cook using a few cupboard essentials. It’s a simple yet delicious 1-pot recipe, healthy, vegan and amazingly GOOD.

Basically, it’s the supreme example of how to turn basic inexpensive ingredients into a perfect weeknight meal for every family: economical, flavorsome, and full of nutrients.

A white bowl full of pasta with lentils.

I’ve been cooking this Italian pasta dish for ages, it has been one of my favorite staples since I was a kid. I love its simplicity, the homey flavor, the thick texture, the fact that it’s so filling, packed with protein, and requires minimal ingredients.

Extra bonus? The day after tastes even better!


What ingredients you need

  • Green or brown lentils
  • Pasta
  • Fresh or canned tomatoes
  • Onion & garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Tomato paste
  • Bay leaves
  • Cumin
  • Broth
  • Salt & pepper

The ingredients for this pasta with lentils are arranged on a white marble table and a small wooden board.

How to make it

  • Saute’ onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes
  • Add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves and cook another minute
  • Stir in lentils, cumin, tomato paste, pepper, and broth
  • Cook for about 20-25 minutes or until the lentils are soft
  • Add the pasta, salt and cook over low-medium heat

How to cook pasta with lentils: two pictures of a white pot shows two different steps.

  • Cook all in one pot adding a touch of broth or water if needed
  • Serve with freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil
  • Optional: Also, you can serve it with chopped parsley, chili flakes, and grated parmesan cheese!

A white cast iron pot full of pasta with lentils with 2 bay leaves on top and a wooden spoon.


First things first, this easy 1-pot recipe makes a healthy balanced meal, costs less than $ 1 per serving and tastes delicious. Lentils are amazing cupboard essentials and buying them in bulk will save you money!


This pasta with lentils recipe is a must in every Italian family. It looks more like a stew than a pasta dish, and the pasta cooks while the lentil stew simmers.  In Italy, this is the way we cook pasta with pulses: slowly, in a broth packed with nutrients and flavor.

In this pasta with lentils, the flavor comes from the sauteed garlic, the onion, the bay leaves, the sweet tomatoes which make the broth richer, and the cumin to add depth of flavor.
To make things even better, don’t skip a drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground pepper when you serve it. You will love it.

The most popular pasta shapes for this recipe are ditali or ditalini (basically what I used in these pictures) or any sort of small resilient pasta like orecchiette or shells are fine. However, often my mother used to break spaghetti into short pieces to make this recipe. That’s another popular variation that works just fine.

Pasta with lentils served in a white bowl with a spoon.


Yes, lentils are super nutritious, low in fat, and high in minerals and fiber. Plus, they’re a fantastic vegetarian source of protein which makes them an excellent replacement for meat in meals.
To make this pasta with lentils healthier and more nutritious, switch to whole-grain pasta, and you’ll get more natural fiber and micronutrients than white pasta.


Not really. Because lentils are so small and cook quickly, you don’t need to soak them in advance. They’re done in about 25-30 minutes.

A white table and two white bowls full of pasta with lentils.


If you have any leftovers, you can store pasta with lentils in the fridge in a tight lid container for 2 days.
The pasta will absorb liquid as it sits and to reheat, add up to 1 cup of water until it’s thinned to the desired consistency, then gently warm over medium-low heat.


If you make this delicious pasta with lentils or if you have any questions, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it or tag a photo #theclevermeal on Instagram. I would love to hear from you!

A white bowl full of pasta with lentils.
Print Recipe
4.95 from 38 votes


This Italian pasta with lentils is one of the best nourishing meals you can cook using a few cupboard essentials such as dried lentils and pasta. It's an easy yet delicious 1-pot recipe, healthy, vegan and amazingly GOOD.
Note: chose US customary or metric/tap on servings to scale quantities!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: pasta, Soup
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean, vegan, vegetarian
Keyword: Pasta with lentils
Servings: 3
Calories: 513kcal
Author: Katia


  • 1 ¼ cup dried brown or green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 ¼ cup short pasta shapes (ditalini, elbows, orecchiette, mezzi rigatoni...)
  • 5 cups vegetable or chicken broth, plus more if needed
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, cut into halves (see notes)*
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small-sized onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • fine salt, to taste
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper, plus more to taste


  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute' for 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves and stir for a minute (If you use canned tomatoes or only tomato paste rather than fresh tomatoes, add them along with the ingredients listed below).
  • Add lentils, cumin, tomato paste, broth, and pepper.
  • Increase heat and bring to simmer. Place lid on and turn the heat down to medium-low. Simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until lentils are soft.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning according to your liking (see notes).*
  • Add pasta, cook gently over medium heat until al dente. Stir frequently!
  • If the stew seems too thick, gradually add a touch of water or broth and thin to desired consistency (note: the longer it sits on the stove, the thicker it will get). Taste, you might want to adjust again the seasoning before serving.
  • Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, and grated parmesan cheese if you don't keep it vegan. Also, garnish with chili flakes and chopped parsley for extra flavor if you like. Enjoy!


LENTILS: brown or green lentils are my favorite for this recipe.
RINSE THE LENTILS: place the lentils in a colander and make sure you pick out any debris or small stone, then give them a good rinse under runny water.
TOMATOES: fresh, canned or tomato paste make the stew richer and tastier. However, you can substitute fresh tomatoes with  ⅓ cup of canned diced tomatoes or an extra Tbsp of tomato paste. If you use only tomato paste, a total of 2 Tbsps is enough.
BROTH: the amount of broth is added gradually to the pasta, which absorbs it completely and retains its starch. And you want to stir often until the water is absorbed, otherwise, it will stick to the bottom of the pot.
SALT: if you use broth rather than water, it's important to adjust the seasoning when the lentils are done and you're about to add pasta, as you never really know how salty the broth is.  
NOTE: nutritional values are estimates only.


Calories: 513kcal | Carbohydrates: 92g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 56mg | Potassium: 1043mg | Fiber: 28g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 333IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 7mg


  1. 5 stars
    This recipe is very delicious! When I want to eat something comfortable, I always do this. As I’m cooking now in this rainy day in Brazil! Thanks!

    1. I LOVE your feedback, Leticia. Thanks for sharing and hugs from London (it’s still so cold here!). x

  2. 5 stars
    super delicious comfort food! love the fact that its all made in one pot.
    thank you!

    1. That’s great, thanks for sharing, Ceci! I’m very pleased to hear that. x

  3. Fares ABU AYYASH says:

    the calories are per serving?

    1. Yes they are, but it’s a pretty generous serving. x

  4. 5 stars
    Delicious, versatile, and comforting.

    1. That’s great to hear, thanks Kate! x

  5. Cheryl Bina-rodriguez says:

    5 stars
    It was delicious. Thank you. I didn’t have tomato paste so used a can of diced tomatoes. Family wants it in the rotation. Thank you!

    1. Great! I’m so pleased to hear it was a hit with the family. Thanks so much for sharing. x

  6. 5 stars
    My mothers Pasta e Lenticchie is the number 1

    1. I’m sure it is! : )
      Thanks for rating the recipe anyway!

  7. Jackie van der Meer-Cairncross says:

    5 stars
    I love one pot recipes and this one did not disappoint. I used a mix of green, red, black and French lentils as that was what I had at hand. I also added some brown sugar and balsamic vinegar as I used a bit more tomato purée. It was really, really tasty. The addition of black pepper and EVOO, as suggested in the recipe, really made the dish. I also added some homemade, cashew nut based vegan Parmesan. I will definitely make this again. Thank you!

    1. I’m so pleased, thanks so much for sharing your feedback, Jackie! x

  8. Thomas W Murray says:

    5 stars
    your list of ingredients not include bay leaves, but they are mentioned in the instructions. How many?

    1. Hi Thomas, 1 or 2 bay leaves are fine. : )

  9. Is the pasta cooked separately then added to the lentils or is it added and cooked with the lentils?

    1. Hi! Pasta is added to the pot and cooked with the lentil stew. x

  10. 5 stars
    Excellent. Quick and easy, but with plenty of flavors and character. I used Rigatoni on hand. That turned out very well. This is a healthy recipe. I am sure I will be making this dish often.
    Thanks, Katia.

    1. You’re welcome, John! : )
      I’m very glad you loved the recipe, thanks for sharing your feedback. x

  11. Haley Puckett says:

    5 stars
    This was delicious! Thank you for the recipe!

    1. You’re welcome, Haley!
      So glad you loved it, thanks for your feedback. x

  12. How many bay leaves? You left them out of the ingredients.

    1. You can use 1 max 2 bay leaves, Abby. x

    2. I’d like to make this with canned beans instead of dried lentils. Would that affect the cook time and liquid amounts?

    3. Hey Francine, yes, but you can follow my recipe for pasta with beans (pasta e fagioli) that uses canned beans, it’s on the website. x

    4. 5 stars
      Love this recipe. It has become a regular in our house as all 7 of us are fans!

    5. Fantastic! I’m so happy to hear that, thanks so much for sharing, Kiri. : )

  13. 5 stars
    Very good recipe. I didn’t have as many lentils as I thought so my overall pasta:lentil ratio was different, but didn’t seem to make a big difference. I also just used some tomato sauce I had lying around instead of paste/whole tomatoes, which isn’t ideal but it still came out tasting great anyway.

    Definitely part of the regular rotation now.

    1. That’s great! Thanks so much for sharing your feedback, Keith! : )

    2. 5 stars
      Made this and it taste really good. The only thing was that the pasta look longer to cook and had to add more liquid to eat so pasta could finish cooking.

    3. Thanks so much for shring your feedback, Maria! I’m very glad it turned out good : )

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