Red Lentil Tomato Pasta Sauce

red lentils and tomato pasta sauce

I love a simple bowl of spaghetti with creamy tomato sauce, and so does my youngest. Sweet Pea is going through the picky stage right now, but she would wolf down a bowl of spaghetti. I relied on Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce for a long time as my go-to pasta sauce until one day, possibly because I ran out of Rao’s, I tried Marcella Hazen’s tomato sauce. My whole family adored Hazen’s recipe, but I had to add meatballs or something extra to make the meal more balanced.

red lentils
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Red lentils came to mind while trying to figure out what I could incorporate into the sauce since I knew my kids enjoy creamy red lentil and tomato soup. When I first tried it out, both of my kids inhaled their pasta like a vacuum machine and asked for seconds. #momwin

Next time, I pureed the onion into the sauce instead of discarding it, as Hazen’s recipe suggests. Onions are full of nutrition, so it felt like a wasted opportunity to throw it out. Once again, my kids inhaled their pasta.

homemade red lentils and tomato pasta sauce in mason jars

Make your own pasta sauce stash

This recipe makes a large amount of sauce. When I make this pasta sauce, I freeze half of the sauce for later and use the remainder for dinner. If you are using mason jars for freezing, please check out this helpful guideline to be safe. You can freeze the pasta sauce for up to 3 months or refrigerate it for up to 3 days.

With the pasta sauce ready in the fridge, I can whip up a quick spaghetti dish whenever Sweet Pea asks for “orange pasta.”

5 from 3 votes

Red Lentil Tomato Pasta

This nutritious red lentil and tomato pasta feels like a simple bowl of comfort food.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 10
Author whiteblankspace


  • 4 tbsps unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 tsp salt + more to taste
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 28 oz canned whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry red lentils rinsed and sorted
  • 3 cups water
  • (optional) 2~3 fresh sprigs of thyme
  • (optional) heavy cream for serving
  • (optional) grated parmesan cheese for serving


  1. In a large pot, melt butter. Add onion and a teaspoon of salt. Cook the onion until it is soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute.

  2. Add tomatoes, lentils, water, and thyme. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 20 minutes until lentils are soft.
  3. Discard the thyme. Puree the sauce either using an immersion blender or a high-speed blender. (If using a high-speed blender, make sure to cool down the sauce before blending. A high-speed blender will result in a creamier texture.) Mix in more salt to taste.

  4. At this point, you can divide the sauce into single servings and freeze for later. (Heavy cream and cheese do not freeze well, so add it to the pasta right before serving.)

  5. When serving, cook pasta al dente. (Drain the pasta 2 minutes prior to the suggested cooking time on the package.) Add pasta to the sauce and cook for another minute or two while tossing. Add a dash of heavy cream if desired. Top with grated parmesan cheese before serving.

Recipe Notes

Note: You can thin out the pasta sauce with reserved pasta cooking water and omit heavy cream if desired.

10 Responses

    1. I haven’t tried passata, but if it’s similar to crushed tomatoes, I think it should work fine.

    1. hi there, brown or green lentils take longer to cook and don’t break down easily like red lentils

  1. Love your ideas, recipes and site, will definitely share it with family and put it out there on my FB page

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