A smoky, hearty and vegan Lentil and Pasta Salad is just the kind of food that keeps me fueled and satisfied during a long workday. And when I come home, after battling D.C.’s rush-hour Beltway traffic, I still have enough energy to take on anything, from a dog with an upset tummy (poor Opie) to cooking for an army.
Okay, just slightly kidding on that last one. But most evenings find me in the kitchen cooking something up for dinner — something that will hopefully brown-bag beautifully for lunch the next day. And nothing makes me happier than when that something is pasta.
This past week, I put together two of the heartiest staples in my pantry — orzo pasta and puy lentils — to make this deep, rich, flavorful vegan Lentil and Pasta Salad.
To create the smokiness in my pasta, I relied on some old favorite ingredients, and some new. Old favorites: cumin and cinnamon, two spices that never fail to add infinite loads of deliciousness to just about anything. New favorite: smoked paprika.
I love my chillies as you probably already know if you’ve read through past recipes. But while some chilli favorites like habaneros and chipotle peppers tend to add a ton of heat along with the flavor, smoked paprika adds flavor and color without searing your tastebuds into numbness. And it adds depth and richness to just about any recipe, right out of the bottle. Perfect.
Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!
- 12 ounces orzo pasta, cooked until al dente per package instructions
- 1 cup French puy lentils (can substitute with green or brown lentils). Soak the lentils in water mixed with 1 tsp salt for 30 minutes. Drain, place in a saucepan, add enough water to cover the lentils by an inch, and bring to a boil. Cover and lower the heat to simmer. Let the lentils cook until they are perfectly tender but still holding their shape. This should take anywhere between 5-20 minutes depending on the lentils you use.
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, cut into a small dice
- 1 stick celery, cut into a small dice
- 8 cremini or button mushrooms, finely chopped
- 4 plum tomatoes, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
- 2 tsp cumin, ground
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- Fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
- Add the onions, carrots and celery. Season with salt and pepper and saute for about five minutes or until the vegetables start to soften.
- Add the mushrooms, plum tomatoes, oregano, paprika, cumin and cinnamon. Saute until the tomatoes start to soften, about five minutes.
- Add the cooked, drained lentils with a cup of water or the cooking liquid. Bring the sauce to a boil, cover and cook for 10 more minutes over medium-low heat.
- Add the cooked orzo pasta and parsley and stir well. Turn off the heat.
- Serve hot, warm or cold. It's delicious every way.