Ok let me start by telling you that “lentils” is a word I did not know growing up. It was Lenticchie (pronounced len-teek-yeh)…I only knew the Italian word.
My mamma would make some kind of smaller pasta with the lentils and lots of garlic. Yummmy!
This is such a simple dish it is almost embarrassing to call this a recipe but you have to make this sometime. It is a simple, stick to your guts, garlicky and yes, a HEALTHY southern Italian peasant dish!!!
First…rinse your lentils and then put them in a pot and cover with water….OK now this is hard…I usually use my 3 quart sauce pot and fill it about 1/2 way with water and I use a one pound bag of lentils!
OMG!!! I feel like my old Italian Grandmother trying to pass on recipes that have no measurements!!!
Of course you may not use that much since I do have a family of 8 to feed and that one pound bag and 2 pounds of pasta JUST covers us! So for a family of 4– 1/2 a bag is good with 1 pound of pasta! of course because nowadays all my older sons want more protein, I often go pound for pound… lentils and pasta!
***Anyway, bring the lentils to a boil and then just let them simmer slowly til they soak up all or most of the water (which you have lightly salted). If they dry out and aren’t soft then just add more water and take note for next time! In the end, you want the lentils soft and for the whole pot of them to still be kind of moist. Even a smidge watery is fine.
***Now in your other pot, boil your water for your pasta (with a good pinch of salt) and then cook the pasta. I like to use either a smaller pastina like ditalini or elbows, or acini di pepe or the mini bows…but I have also used the big bows, or rotelle, or even taken spaghetti and broken it into 1 to 2 inch pieces and used that. Use what you like or whatever you have on hand!
***Once the lentils and the pasta are both cooked drain the pasta then mix the two together. Now here is where I do it a bit different than my mother used to do…and of course you can do it either way.
My mother used to take a bunch of cloves of garlic and throw them in with a bunch of olive oil and mix it all up. Let it sit for a bit and then serve. She likes hers a little more “watery” than my nonna used to make it.
I like it this way but I also like to take a small pan ( I have the coolest little miniature cast iron frying pan ) that I heat up olive oil and lightly saute my garlic before throwing it in. I usually do this step while the pasta is cooking.
I saute in a bit of regular olive oil but then I mix in with the pasta and lentils and add extra virgin olive oil.
Then all you need now is a pinch of salt to taste (don’t forget you salted your pasta water and the lentils a bit so taste it first)
***I like to serve this with grated parmigiano or romano cheese or even take a slice of provolone and lay it on top and it melts and gets gooey and is just another amazing variation!
Please let me know what you think of this one!!!