Have you ever tried pasta soup with lentils? Yes I said pasta soup, because in Italy not only we eat pasta asciutta but we also have pasta in a soup, which we call “pasta a minestra“.
As today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent for Catholics I want to share with you this classic recipe that we cook in Sicily during winter, but is also the perfect dish for a day of fasting like this.
That is because lentils cooked with pasta not only are extremely filling but also healthy, rich and give you the right amount of energy to carry out through the day until dinner time.
My mum always likes to add an extra kick to the dish by mixing at the very end small cubes of local caciocavallo cheese, which is extremely tasty and balances perfectly with the gentle flavors of lentils.
Ingredients & preparation for 4 people:
350 gr ditalini pasta or similar
200 gr lentils
1-2 cloves of garlic
4 tbs tomato sauce
a pinch of turmeric powder
a pinch of ginger powder
a pinch of chilli pepper (according to your taste)
100 gr caciocavallo cheese (half grated and half in pieces)
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
First thing first rinse the lentils under runnig water. In terms of which quality of lentils any type is ok as long as they are the small ones, which blend better with the pasta.
Fill half a pot of water and let it boil.
Once boiling add salt and slowly cook your lentils on a gentle heat for about 20-25 minutes, adding the cloves of garlic without the skin and the chilli pepper, while stirring from time to time. When the lentils are almost done add the tablespoons of tomato sauce and the pasta. Keep stirring and let them cook together.
At this point it’s important to keep an eye on the water as well. If it is too much you will end up with a watery dish, by contrast if the pasta is absorbing too much water you need to add some more (putting on a kettle), otherwise both the pasta and the lentils will stick on the bottom of the pot and the dish will be ruined.
Ideally the amount of water left once the dish is ready to be served has to be like the one in the picture here on the right. It has to reduce but not completely! At the very end, when the pasta is cooked add a pinch of turmeric powder and ginger powder, plus the small cubes of caciocavallo cheese.
Serve on plates and add some more grated cheese on top if it is of your taste, or leave it like this, because it is already extremely tasty.
With a lunch like this the day is yours! Ah Ah… Enjoy!