In this recipe for Lentil Marinara I make my favorite marinara sauce even healthier by adding peppery, delicious French lentils. There’s no added oil here; instead, use vegetable broth for flavor and more healthfulness. A gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free and oil-free recipe with just 108 calories per serving.
I make marinara sauce at least once a week because Jay is nuts about it. And as much as I love it and appreciate its healthfulness, I realized that I wouldn’t mind adding some extra nutrition to it, especially in the form of some healthy protein and fiber. Ergo, my French Lentil Marinara Sauce.
I have at any time at least a dozen types of lentils and beans in my pantry, including the many types used in Indian cuisine. French lentils are also always on hand because I love their unique flavor, which needs very little embellishment to transform into utter deliciousness. My French Lentil Dal with Cauliflower is a favorite that we make often.
I can’t club this under the “30 minutes or under” group simply because the lentils require about 20-30 minutes to tenderize, but a lot of your time making this sauce is hands-free. So there is no reason why you cannot multi-task thoughtfully while making this sauce, and get dinner on the table in under 45 minutes.
There are just five ingredients in this sauce: lentils, tomatoes, garlic, oregano (or basil), and red pepper, and I am willing to bet you have all, or most of these, in your kitchen already. Vegetable stock is nice in this recipe for more flavor, but you can sub it with water, at a pinch.
Try it! With more than 7 grams of protein and nearly 9 grams of fiber in each serving, you really can’t afford not to. 🙂
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Lentil Marinara, No Oil
- 1 cup French lentils
- 8 cloves garlic, crushed, then cut into thin slivers
- 1 28-oz can San Marzano Tomatoes (Crushed into a coarse puree with your fingers. San Marzano tomatoes are best in a marinara, but if you can't use these, sub with an equal amount of canned plum tomatoes)
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dry oregano (Use 4-5 basil leaves for a variation)
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp vegetable stock (see recipe notes)
- Wash the French lentils and place in a saucepan covered with at least two inches of water. Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat, and cook 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Drain and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat 2 tbsp of the vegetable stock. Add the garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until the water dries up and the garlic is fragrant. This should take no more than 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes with all the juices, red pepper flakes and oregano. Add the remaining one cup of vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
- Stir well and let the sauce cook for 15 minutes. The sauce should have patches of bright orange liquid on top.
- Stir in the cooked lentils. Season with salt and add ground black pepper if desired. Let the sauce cook another five minutes, stirring it a couple of times.
- Serve hot over a bed of pasta.
- Click here for a recipe for homemade vegetable stock. If you want to be completely oil-free, skip the step for sauteeing the veggies.