Red Lentil Marinara Sauce

It’s the most-asked question for vegetarians: “How do you get enough protein?”

The fact is, it’s easy to get enough protein in your diet – human protein requirements are not as crazy-complicated as many folks believe.

That said, I’ve come to the recent realization that, for me, I need more. It helps me feel satisfied; it keeps me full for longer. And thus, I eat less overall. Which, for a gal who’s always fought her weight, is a pretty big deal.

Red Lentil Marinara Sauce - With a hefty dose of protein in every single serving, this hearty, flavorful marinara makes just about anything a meal. Perfect for making ahead and freezing, too!

So I’m starting a New Thing. Capitalized – it’s that huge of a deal to me. I’m going to pack protein into my meals – within reason, of course. I’m going to throw chia seeds, eggs, yogurt, legumes, nut butters, and more into to all kinds of food and drink nooks and crannies that I never before considered. And I’m going to see what happens.

One of the first recipes to come out of this New Thing? This here protein-packed Red Lentil Marinara Sauce.

Thanks to these fine little beauties, red lentils, this lovely marinara packs more than 8 grams of protein into every serving.

Red Lentil Marinara Sauce - With a hefty dose of protein in every single serving, this hearty, flavorful marinara makes just about anything a meal. Perfect for making ahead and freezing, too!

I would have never before thought to look at sauce as a protein source, but I’m so glad I went there.

Red lentils are a great protein-rich addition to marinara or other tomato-based pasta sauces because, unlike some other lentils, they cook down, get mushy, and sort of become one with whatever else you’re cooking them with.

Yes – you can see some in there. But the taste and the texture? Pure mouth-watering marinara goodness.

Red Lentil Marinara Sauce - With a hefty dose of protein in every single serving, this hearty, flavorful marinara makes just about anything a meal. Perfect for making ahead and freezing, too!

Red Lentil Marinara Sauce starts with onions, green peppers (strange, I know, but trust me), and carrots. Sometimes I’ll add some bonus veggies like mushrooms or shredded zucchini. And then a big can of fire-roasted tomatoes, red lentils, veggie broth, a nice amount of garlic, spices, and some other good stuff.

Oh, and honey. Trust me on that, too – it helps to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. (To make this recipe vegan, just sub an equal amount of vegan granulated sugar).

Red Lentil Marinara Sauce - With a hefty dose of protein in every single serving, this hearty, flavorful marinara makes just about anything a meal. Perfect for making ahead and freezing, too!

We love this sauce served over whole-wheat spaghetti or rotini, but really, the possibilities are endless. I can’t wait to try it on some zucchini pasta, ooh or a nice gluten-free brown rice pasta, and it’ll make a perfect dip for breadsticks. I think it would be incredible in lasagna, or spooned over stuffed shells.

This sauce freezes wonderfully, too. Just scoop it in a freezer bag, label and date, and then pull it out when you need it.

Protein-o-rama. It’s happening.

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Red Lentil Marinara Sauce

With a hefty dose of protein in every single serving, this hearty, flavorful marinara makes just about anything a meal. Perfect for making ahead and freezing, too!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole fire-roasted tomatoes (plain whole tomatoes will work fine too)
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, green peppers, and carrots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, for one more minute.
  2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable broth, wine, lentils, and honey. Stir to incorporate. Heat until the mixture comes to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer sauce for about 25 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
  3. Stir in parsley. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Serve as desired.
  4. Keeps refrigerated in an airtight container for 3-4 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
All images and text © for Kitchen Treaty.

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Karen Raye

Kare is a vegetarian home cook living among carnivores. She loves creating irresistible and flexible recipes that help multi-vore families like hers keep the peace - deliciously.