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Pasta with Lentils and Arugula


Plum tomatoes and arugula add color to this hearty pasta dish with onions and lentils.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6

Source: Everyday Food, March 2005


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced (4 cups)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 12 ounces plum tomatoes, cored and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 12 ounces orecchiette pasta
  • 1 bunch (8 ounces) arugula, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cover, and cook until onions wilt, about 20 minutes. Uncover; raise heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until onions are dark brown, 20 to 25 minutes more.

  2. Add 1/4 cup water; stir to loosen any browned bits from pan. Stir in tomatoes; remove from heat.

  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover lentils with water by 1 inch. Bring to a simmer. Cover; cook until lentils are tender but still holding their shape, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain; stir into onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. Cook pasta in a pot of salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta, and return to pot.

  5. Add lentil mixture, arugula, cheese, and reserved pasta water; toss. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with more cheese, if desired.

Cook's Notes

Orecchiette are small ear-shaped pasta shells; fusilli or farfalle can be used instead. You can also replace the arugula with two cups whole fresh Italian parsley leaves.

Reviews Add a comment

  • Rosemary317
    15 MAR, 2011
    always watching my weight. wish the recipes on this site would keep that in mind I so want to make a lot of the recipe but without the infor can not
  • Abeem
    14 MAR, 2011
    I wish we could get the nutritional numbers.
  • amandajennison
    14 MAR, 2011
    The onions get caramelized, which (on very low heat so you don't scorch) takes time. The tomatoes should be cored and diced (as mentioned in the ingredients list) and then added with the water to the onions in Step 2. I just use a big can of diced tomatoes, drained, which saves me a few steps. :) Hope this helps! Cheffette-- most people are not chefs, professionally or otherwise. It is rude to respond to genuine questions with condescension, regardless of how obvious one deems the answer to be.
  • Cheffette
    14 MAR, 2011
    As a chef, it is important to read the ingredients and the method in full before you begin making a dish. It clearly tells you how long and why to cook the onions and it also tells you what to do with the tomatoes and when to add them.
  • meldaefe
    14 MAR, 2011
    ?? Do we cook onions for 45 mins?! why?
  • Szollar
    10 JAN, 2011
    The ingredients call for plum tomatoes but the directions don't mention how to prepare and include them...