This Sicilian Lentil Pasta is one of those ‘as simple as it gets’ dishes. If you love lentils and pasta you have to make this!

A closeup showing the round ditalini pasta mixed with the lentil sauce served on a white plate

Since lentils have no particularly strong flavor on their own, pancetta, fresh herbs along with a little chili flake kick helps to transform them and bring out their natural flavor.

Also known as pasta e lenticchie alla Siciliana (now that’s an Italian mouthful) or Sicilian-style lentil pasta, this perfect winter warmer is originally a peasant dish that can be served as a perfect main dish (or as a side dish) with your favorite protein.

The sauce can be prepared 1 of 2 ways: You can make it either soupy or saucy (per the recipe) or allow most of the liquid to reduce, for a thicker texture that coats the pasta.

Ditalini pasta mixed with lentil sauce served garnished with chopped parsley

Speaking of the pasta, I have made this dish in the past using a large rigatoni but the lentils get buried under the weight of the pasta so decided to change it up and started using small (and very cute) ditalini – the outcome is much better.

This is not a vegetarian dish, but it would not take much tweaking to make it so. Simply omit the pancetta and switch the chicken stock/broth for veggie stock/broth. Or, you could chop up vegan bacon or sausage in place of the pancetta. Still a fantastic flavor combination.

The lentil pasta viewed from overhead
Which lentils are best to use for lentil pasta?

I would say whatever you can find. I used brown lentils, but green or red can also be used for a bit of color variation.

Lentils are widely used in Sicilian cooking and while my husband and I have not made the trip to Sicily yet, we have visited Italy many times and sampled some amazing authentic pasta dishes. Sicilians eat lentils as a symbol of good luck and prosperity – so eat up your lentils, they’re good luck and good for you!

More Pasta Recipes:

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Yield: 4 servings

Sicilian Lentil Pasta

A white bowl filled with Sicilian Lentil Pasta

Lentils are cooked pancetta, vegetables and fresh herbs then mixed with small pasta.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup (85 grams/3 ounces) pancetta, diced
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) brown mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (128 grams) yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 small or 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Small pinch dried chili flakes
  • 1 cup (240 grams) dried lentils, rinsed (any type you like)
  • 4 cups (1 liter) low sodium chicken stock/broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 2 1/4 cups (305 grams) ditalini or any small pasta
  • 1 cup (40 grams) Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan over medium heat Add the pancetta, mushrooms, onion, celery and carrots. Cook until the vegetables soften, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary, cook for 2 more minutes, stirring so the garlic doesn't burn.
  2. Add the tomato paste and stir to mix into the vegetables. Stir in the chili flakes. Add the lentils and stock/broth and stir. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes until lentils are tender.
  3. While the lentils cook bring a large pan of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
  4. When the lentils are cooked, stir in the salt and and add more if needed depending on how salty your stock is (salt is added after as it can take longer to cook the lentils if you add salt first).
  5. When the pasta is done, scoop out a cups worth of starchy water and set aside. Drain the pasta and add to the lentil sauce along with the Parmesan and mix well. If it is too dry, add a little of the pasta water or make it the consistency you like.
  6. Serve topped with chopped parsley.

Nutrition Information


Amount Per Serving Calories 575Saturated Fat 4gCholesterol 14mgSodium 235mgCarbohydrates 81gProtein 24g

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