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.
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.
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 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).
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.
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!
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Stir in parsley. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Serve as desired.
- Keeps refrigerated in an airtight container for 3-4 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.