An Excellent, One-pan, Protein-packed Power Pasta

One-pot meals are the savior of weeknight cooking, and this pasta is a go-to. It's pasta and lentils simmered in crushed tomatoes, finished with lots of chopped kale, saffron, swirls of tahini and chopped almonds.

An Excellent, One-pan, Protein-packed Power Pasta

One-pot meals are the savior of weeknight cooking, and this pasta is one of my go-tos. It's pasta and lentils simmered in crushed tomatoes, finished with lots of chopped kale, saffron, swirls of tahini and chopped almonds. I made a video of how it comes together, but the gist is to simply place most of the ingredients into a big pan or skillet with boiling water, simmer down until the pasta is tender, and plate in shallow bowls with your favorite toppings (I include a list of suggestions). Variations couldn't be easier once you get the hang of the technique. The recipe is included here, and you can also see how I pull it together in the video. As I mention in it, you can easily do a vegan version of this, or use whatever gluten-free pasta you like. I think the reason I always come back to this recipe is because you've got greens, protein from the lentils, and a range of whole healthful ingredients all in one pan. It's a total crowd-pleaser, and leftovers are A+ as well.

Also! A few of you have asked where to find a list of all my videos in one spot. There will always an up-to-date list on this You Tube page. I'm also posting the shorter ones to Instagram. If you subscribe on You Tube, you won't miss any, that's probably the safest bet. In addition to the recipe videos, I'm super excited to post more travel videos. I'm working on one from a trip to (beautiful, sunny!) Tucson, Arizona last week, and a separate video of what I made to take along with me as travel snacks. So, if you subscribe or follow on one of those channels, you'll likely get the heads up. I also link in the 101 Cookbooks newsletter (sign-ups are sprinkled all over)....The videos are far from perfect (especially the ones I'm in laugh/cry), but they're so fun to make, and my hope is that I'll get better at it over the course of the year - 2017 goals! ;) xx! -h


An Excellent One-pot Pasta Recipe

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An Excellent, One-pan, Protein-packed Power Pasta

French lentils or black beluga lentils are both great choices here because they retain their shape.

1 pound dried pasta (garganelli is great)
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Zest of two lemons
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, plus more to taste
1 cup cooked lentils
1 pound kale, de-stemmed and chopped

pinch of saffron and/or other favorite spice blend

to serve: any/ all of the following: tahini, torn basil, lots of Parmesan (skip if vegan/wfpb), olives, toasted almonds, basil

Place the pasta, tomatoes, olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, and salt into a large, deep skillet or saucepan. Pour 4 cups of boiling water over the tomato mixture, cover, and bring to a boil. Uncover, and simmer until the pasta is just al dente, depending on the pasta this typically takes 6-10 minutes, stirring regularly. Once the pasta is al dente, stir in the lentils, and then the kale, allowing it to collapse. Finish with the saffron. Allow the pasta to finish cooking, and much of the liquid to be absorbed, another minute or so. Serve topped with any toppings you like in a shallow bowl - dollops of tahini, chopped almonds and olives are pictured here.

Serves 6.

Prep time: 5 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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Yum! My husband does not tolerate lentils well, but his system can handle most other beans …any suggestions for a substitute protein? And, should I add it later in the process to ensure it holds its shape? Thanks!


    Hi Audra, you could try a white bean. And you could add them in place of the lentils in the recipe. Enjoy!

    Heidi Swanson

This looks so amazing, and I can’t wait to make it tonight! Having a whole-food-plant-based renaissance and rediscovering all the wonderful things you cook 🙂 I have your book at home and can’t wait to dive back into that, too!

Elizabeth Cauvel

I’m on a gluten free diet. Will brown rice pasta fall apart if I cook it in the tomato/water mixture followed by additional cooking? Thank-you

Judy Haddad

this looks so good and I might make it for my family


OMG!!! I love your recipes and your videos. My daughter and I have tried most of your recipes. in the pasta dish you said lentil. What type of lentil would you recommend….

HS: Hi Nimi – thanks! I used French lentils or black beluga lentils – any that hold their shape will be fine.


I make a very similar meal like this once a week! Many times I use spinach that I have on hand and I always add red chili flakes, a can of sardines and a can of anchovies. After reading how healthy sardines and anchovies are I started adding them to this recipe to help “disguise” the taste since they are not my favorite. I even started serving this easy dish to guests (using brown rice pasta for my wheat-free friends) and always get rave reviews! I’m going to try adding the lentils and tahini next time so thanks for sharing this recipe!


This was great. Added Zaatar and topped with toasted almonds, hummus, and a couple of strips of good Parmesan. Also added the juice of one of the lemons, kalmatta and green olives and used GF pasta. Awesome!


Made this last night. Adding lentils to pasta was a novel idea and I would never have considered adding tahini to a pasta dish, but you’ve never steered me wrong Heidi, so I gave it a shot. SO GOOD! Thank you once again for new cooking ideas that open doors into more culinary exploration.


Have always loved your recipes, been cooking from your site for ages. Always recommend your books and site to our library patrons. But. Now. The music you use in your videos. OMG. Crazy good. You are the coolest! Seriously do a post or more on your favorite musical artists. PLEASE?

HS: Thank you Simon! I’m listing all the music credits in the description on each video’s You Tube page, in case there is a particular track you like 🙂 xx!


I love flexible recipes like this!!Loving the videos,would love to see crepes(:and healthy on the go recipes are some of my favorites of yours.


This is exactly what I need to cook tonight and feel like eating on this cold Friday in the Netherlands. And I have all the ingredients already on hand! Thanks Heidi!


Looks fantastic. May be making it tonight or tomorrow for the two swimmers in our home…

Doug R.

Do you use the whole can of crushed tomatoes? In the video it looks like you only added part of it. Thanks for the recipe!,

HS: Hi Julie – I used half of a large 28-ounce can, so, 14-ounces total (or a smaller can), you should see that reflected in the recipe. Enjoy!


Thank you for the recipe, it was so easy and delicious! I used spelt spirals and chickpeas instead of lentils, and tried it with tahini and lots of grated Grana padano. I found that it did need quite a lot of salt to bring out the flavor- so I might try adding olives or capers, or using vegetable stock the next time! 😉


Hi Heidi, Look forward to the travel videos. I have a suggestion/ request that you create another category called “travel snacks” My wife has the unusual dilemma of traveling without her personal chef (me!) and I was searching for some of your travel recipes and discovered they are sprinkled throughout your post. Thanks for all of the hard work!


Heidi, I’ve been loving your videos, and this one is my favorite so far! Loved see YOU and hearing you talk about the recipe. Look forward to more! And can’t wait to make this dish!

Katie @ Whole Nourishment

Made tonight as I happened to have all the ingredients in the pantry or in this week’s veg box. Absolutely delicious with fresh basil, a drizzle of tahini, a very soft boiled egg (too uncoordinated for poached) and a squeeze of lemon juice.
I’ve been eating more vegetarian lately and am cooking almost exclusively from your website, it just makes it so easy but the food is never boring. Your recipes mix flavours in such unique ways, it’s such a joy to cook and eat.


Whoa! Heidi, is there no limit to your orchestration of joyful dining. We love pasta so much, and try to include vegetables and protein to keep the carbs under control (almost impossible). Thank you for another gem in your crown.


This looks so good. Thanks for sharing.


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