Lentil Bolognese over Garlicky Penne

A few months back I shared one of my entries into The National Lentil Festival’s Legendary Lentil Cook-off and thought it would be the perfect time of year to share another one of my entries.  This one is my Lentil Bolognese over Garlicky Penne and it is a real belly warmer.  Recipes for this contest had to specify at least 1/2 cup raw lentils, 1 cup cooked lentils and/or 1/2 cup of lentil flour and no more than 15 ingredients (not including salt, pepper or an oiled pan).

Lentil Bolognese over Garlicky Penne

Lentil Bolognese over Garlicky Penne

8 tbs olive oil, divided
3/4 cup small diced cut carrot
2/3 cup small diced cut celery
3/4 cup small diced cut sweet onion
8 cloves garlic, minced, divided
2 cans (14.5 ounce each) petite diced tomatoes with green chilies
2/3 cup red wine
1 cup raw lentils, rinsed
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
20 pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
7 tbs minced fresh basil, divided
Water for boiling pasta (2 – 3 quarts)
12 oz mini penne pasta
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
For Garnish: Additional shredded parmesan cheese and minced fresh basil

In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat 2 tbs olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the carrot, celery and onion and cook until onion is translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add in 4 cloves of the garlic, cook 1 minute. Stir in the canned tomatoes (with all juices), wine and lentils. Add in 3 cups of the vegetable broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (mixture should be at a low boil). Add in the olives, vinegar and 2 tbs basil and continue to cook until lentils are cooked through, adding in the remaining 1 cup of vegetable broth if Bolognese is too dry (lentils should be submerged).

While Bolognese is cooking, prepare the penne. In a large pot, bring 2 – 3 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add penne and salt to taste and cook according to package directions. Remove 1 – 2 cups of the pasta water and set aside for possible usage; drain penne. Place pot over medium heat. Add in remaining 6 tbs olive oil and remaining 4 cloves of garlic, cook for 1 minute. Add in the penne and 3 tbs basil, toss to coat.

When ready to serve the Bolognese, stir in the parmesan cheese, remaining 2 tbs basil and additional liquid to loosen, if necessary (from the remaining vegetable broth or reserved pasta water). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve: Evenly divide the pasta between serving bowls, top with the Bolognese, garnish with additional shredded parmesan cheese and minced fresh basil.

Serves 6

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