Serve up a healthy vegetarian dinner with this simple Italian Lentils recipe that’s bursting with freshness from tomatoes and fresh herbs. You can serve it chunky or pureed smooth, and it’s a yummy iron-rich recipe to pair with rice or noodles!
Easy Lentils Recipe
I try to keep lentils in my pantry so I have them for quick family dinners during the week—which I tend to turn to whenever I run out of cooking ideas. And this recipe, which also uses canned tomatoes, is a perfect pantry dinner when it seems like there’s no food in the house!
TIP: Lentils are a great source of iron, which is a nutrient that many kids fall short on.
Ingredients in Italian Lentils
To make this recipe, you’ll need those basic brown dry lentils you can usually find at any store, plus onion, garlic powder, salt, crushed tomatoes, thyme, and rice.
TIP: You can also serve this over pasta and/or use basil or parsley instead of thyme if you prefer.
How to Make Italian Lentils Step-by-Step
Here’s a look at the one-pot process of making this recipe. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full info.
- Dice the onion and add it to a wide pan with the lentils and spices.
- Add liquid and bring to a simmer.
- Cook until soft.
- Stir in the tomatoes and adjust salt. Serve over cooked rice.
TIP: You can also puree this smooth in a blender if you think your kids would prefer it that way!
Lentils are a wonderful source of plant-based protein and iron, and they’re a really inexpensive source of protein to share with the family. If you pair them with a grain, you’ll have a complete source of protein to satisfy everyone at the table.
Can I make this with other beans?
You could certainly make something similar with white beans or chickpeas, though you’ll need to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Can I add more veggies?
Sure! You can add in a cup of diced zucchini, shredded carrot, diced butternut squash or acorn squash, baby spinach, or baby kale for extra veggies. You may need to cook a little longer depending on the veggie, so taste or poke with a fork to check that everything is nice and soft.
What should I serve this lentil stew with?
We like to serve these lentils over rice, pasta, or another grain like quinoa. And for the kids, we add a simple side of sliced cucumber and fruit to round things out. (Adding those simple sides will also help to ensure that the kids have something to eat if they aren’t interested in tasting the lentils.) You can also top with shredded or crumbled cheese, fresh basil, and/or grated Parmesan.
Can I serve these lentils to a baby?
Sure! You may want to reduce or eliminate the salt. You could remove their portion and then salt the rest.
Tips for Making the Best Italian Lentils Recipe
- Store leftovers in an airtight container for 3-5 days in the fridge, or in the freezer in a freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm to serve.
- Add diced zucchini, baby spinach, or baby kale for extra veggies.
- Serve over pasta or another grain instead of rice.
- Puree the sauce for smaller eaters, or puree and stir into pasta.
I’d love to hear what your family thinks of this recipe, so please comment below to leave feedback!Print
You can also serve this with pasta if you prefer.
- 2 cups brown lentils
- 4 cups water
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated, or 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 1 28-ounce can marinara sauce
- 2 cups fully cooked jasmine or basmati rice
- Goat cheese, shredded mozzarella, crushed red pepper, shredded basil for serving, optional
- Add the lentils, water, garlic, onion, salt, and thyme to a medium pot. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender but still holding their shape.
- Stir in the marinara sauce and warm through. Serve over rice with optional toppings.
Store leftovers in an airtight container for 3-5 days in the fridge, or in the freezer in a freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm to serve.
Add diced zucchini, baby spinach, or baby kale for extra veggies.
Puree the sauce for smaller eaters, or puree and stir into pasta.
Use crushed tomatoes instead of marinara sauce or a less expensive ingredient list. Add more salt to taste and perhaps a little olive oil or butter if needed for flavor.