Spaghetti with Lentil Ragu


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Limoncello and Linen Water

Limoncello and Linen Water

By Tessa Kiros

Published 2012

  • About

My friend Anjalika taught me this and it is wonderful. The kind of thing I want to make very often, served with a mixed green salad. If you are making and serving the lentils right away, these liquid amounts are good. However, if you will be making the lentils ahead of time they will absorb water as they sit, so you will need to add a little more water when heating through before serving. Sometimes I like to tear in a little fresh mint with the parsley.


  • 200 g (7 oz) small brown lentils
  • clump of fresh sage
  • 1 whole garlic clove, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 400 g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes
  • good pinch of ground chilli
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 400 g (14 oz) spaghetti
  • freshly grated parmesan, to serve, if you like


Rinse the lentils, pick out and discard any hard odd bits, then put in a pot and cover with water. Add the sage and garlic and simmer, partly covered, for 25 minutes or so. Add a little hot water if the level becomes low and season with salt towards the end of the cooking time. Drain, keeping the cooking water.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it is sticky. Add the tomatoes, a dash of salt, pepper and the chilli. Simmer, mashing down any large lumps, for 10 minutes or so, until the tomato has collapsed. Add the lentils, along with about 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) of the cooking water and simmer, uncovered, for another 10 minutes, for all the flavours to combine. Add a drop more water if it looks too tight or cook a little longer if too loose. Stir in the parsley and remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water to al dente. Drain the pasta and serve in warm wide pasta bowls. Ladle some lentil ragù over each (you may have some ragù left over — I like to serve it with boiled potatoes the next day). Some like this spaghetti with parmesan, but others insist it should be served without.