Pasta is my favorite
I could honestly live on pasta. It’s the one food that I could just keep eating and eating no matter how full I get. I love making tomato basil pasta sauce in the slow cooker, but on it’s own it isn’t the most complete meal because it isn’t very high in protein. Whole wheat pasta is certainly better than the refined stuff, but I started thinking about what else I could add to my pasta sauces to bump up the nutrition.
Enter: Red Lentils! These wee little things are actually nutrition powerhouses. They have 24 grams of protein per half cup (dry), 11 grams of fibre, and plenty of vitamins and minerals. They’re super filling and a fantastic alternative to using meat. If you’ve never cooked with them before they look like this…
This slow cooker lentil and tomato sauce is super simple to make, big on flavor, and actually doesn’t taste much different than a typical tomato sauce. The red lentils are especially great in this dish because they cook really soft so they blend up easily into a nice smooth sauce at the end.
This recipe makes a BIG slow cooker full, so cut it in half if you’re using a smaller one. I like to cook it batches like this so I can put a few containers in the freezer for another day.
Slow Cooker Red Lentil and Tomato Sauce
- 2.5 cups dried red lentils
- 3 Large cans tomatoes (or as much as your slow cooker will fit). I used tomatoes from the garden that I had in my freezer, and I used about an entire freezer bag full
- 3 cups chopped mushrooms
- 1 chopped white onion
- Garlic (I had smaller cloves so I used 6 of them)
*leave everything chopped kind of big, because you’re going to puree it all at the end anyway
- 1 Bay leaf
- Oregano, Basil, Salt, and Pepper to taste. I put a few tsp each of the dried herbs, then add more after cooking if it needs. I wait to add the salt and pepper to the very end so I don’t overdo it. Depending on the size of your slow cooker and how many cans of tomatoes you used you might need less seasoning than I used.
Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker together and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Remove the bay leaf. After cooking, use an immersion blender to puree into a smooth sauce, or carefully use your blender. You can also leave it chunky if you prefer!
Serve over pasta and enjoy….OR you can mix it into the cooked pasta, top with cheese (optional) and bake in the oven like this. If you don’t include dairy in your diet, use your favorite cheese substitute!
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