Pasta e Lenticche

Pasta and Lentils

Preparation info

  • 6

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Alastair Little's Italian Kitchen

Alastair Little's Italian Kitchen

By Alastair Little

Published 1996

  • About

This member of the pasta fagioli family is essentially Roman in character, and is rather more enterprisingly spiced than most Italian dishes. Northern Italians refer to Romans as Arabs and not politely, seeing themselves as essentially North European, and the Romans as belonging to the sensuous exotic south, to the Mediterranean. The Romans should be proud of the Arab connection shown so clearly in this dish.


  • 150 g green or blue lentils
  • 400 g spaghetti
  • 4 tbsp good olive oil
  • 1 tsp each of ground cumin and coriander
  • 1 large red chilli, finely diced
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1 celery stick, 1 large carrot and 1 onion, peeled and finely diced to, a soffritto
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh root ginger (optional)
  • Parmesan, freshly grated
  • Infused Oil


Soak the lentils for 1 hour in cold water to cover, then rinse.

Put 4 tbsp olive oil in a large pan and heat over a medium heat. Add the cumin, coriander, chilli and turmeric and sweat for 2 minutes. Add the soffritto and garlic and sweat for a further 5 minutes. Add the lentils, stir to coat thoroughly with oil, then cover with three times their volume of water. Bring to a simmer, add the bay leaves and ginger (if using), and cook until the lentils are tender. This will take approximately 45 minutes. The lentils can be held at this point, or drained and served as a vegetable. Remove the bay leaves.

Break the dry spaghetti into 2 cm lengths. Bring the lentil mix back to the boil. It should be approximately half liquid, but if it is a little dry, add some water. Add the spaghetti, return to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Switch off the heat, cover and leave for 10 minutes. As with the previous recipe, the pasta will continue cooking during the resting period, and will absorb a great deal of the liquid.

Serve with the Parmesan and infused oil.