Some days you feel like a home-cooked meal. But most often, that time is after a long day at work, when you least feel like spending the remaining hours of the evening waiting in a checkout line.
That was me the other day.
Walking to my car, lips chapped and cheeks red, I just wanted to head home, where I could kick my feet up and turn on the television. I was in no mood to bundle up, break out a grocery list, and trudge through the aisles. After all, Jon Stewart and a warm apartment were waiting.
So when I got home, I flipped on the DVR, and checkedthe cabinet and the fridge, hoping I could do better than a veggie burger tossed on the griddle (my default work-night meal). I had a few staples on hand – canned tomatoes, pasta, an onion and head of garlic in the vegetable basket, and a few remaining sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme. Scrounging behind the bags of rice and cornmeal, I found a half-bag of lentils.
And that, I told myself, was all I needed.
Some of the best dishes we know, from Pasta Puttanesca to Red Beans and Rice, began as nothing more than a rushed Monday-night meal, made from a cabinet-full of cast-asides and a fridge-full of leftovers. I’d like to count this dish among them!
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
COOK TIME: 60 minutes
YIELD: Serves 4
WHAT TO GRAB:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juice
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 cup lentils
5 cups water
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 cups uncooked penne pasta
1 cup grated Parmesan, for serving
HOW YOU DO IT:
1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onion, and cook for 5 minutes, until the onions are tender, stirring regularly. Add the carrot, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of salt, and cook for another 5 minutes.
2. Tie the rosemary and thyme sprigs together, to form a bouquet garni. Add the tomatoes and the bouquet garni. Stirring frequently, cook for about 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes have cooked down and are smelling fragrant.
3. Add the lentils and mix to coat. Add 5 cups of water (or more, if you prefer a thinner, more soup-like consistency), 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer gently for about 25 minutes.
4. After 25 minutes, add the pasta. Cover, and cook for a final 15 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente. Remove the bouquet, and season to taste, as necessary.
5. Serve warm, garnishing each bowl with freshly grated Parmesan!