This hearty vegetable lentil marinara is a healthy and filling sauce that you can make ahead and freeze. It’s a perfect addition to your favorite pasta, casserole or other dish.
Both girls played soccer this fall and it was a total blast. Watching Hailey begin to understand the intricacies of the game rather than just chasing the ball around as a giant pack was exciting. Seeing Kaitlyn’s feisty personality translate into a fierce field presence was equally as enjoyable. It was a rainy season with a lot of cancellations and reschedules, but we thoroughly enjoyed our time at the fields and I fully embraced my soccer mom status!
The season concluded yesterday afternoon, as we spent 4 hours at the fields making up some rained out games. It was cool and windy- ideal soccer weather.
I was actually impressed at how well the girls powered through the afternoon though, considering the night before we had stayed at a friend’s house until well past 10:00. But that’s what you do when there is a lot of good football on TV and a delicious spread to match it. David made his famous chili and Danielle’s stromboli (she made a traditional meat version and a veggie version with feta) were delicious!
However, the late night coupled with several hours of running around the field meant the girls were toast when we got back home around 5:00 yesterday. Luckily I had taken advantage of the morning hours and made a batch of this lentil marinara sauce so that while the girls got cleaned up, all I had to do is boil water for pasta and voila– dinner was served!
I love how veggie-packed this recipe is. The eggplant and mushroom provide a hearty texture while the herbs, garlic, and tomato create an authentic marinara flavor. Plus, it goes on top of pasta, which means everyone in the family will eat in happily. Although these pictures show spaghetti, which is great for adults, I often like using rotini or penne to help the kids eat it more easily. Often times I’ll mix a box of traditional pasta with a box of protein-rich version, like the POW pasta (red lentil is my go-to).
I usually keep a two to one pasta to sauce ratio for Kaitlyn my carb queen, while Hailey and I typically go with more of a one to one ratio. David doesn’t care about the ratio as long as the portion is large and this recipe fits the bill!
However you serve it up, I hope you enjoy this healthy and heart cool weather dinner as much as I do!
This lentil marinara is a hearty, healthy and filling sauce that you can make ahead and freeze, and it’s a perfect addition to your favorite pasta, casserole or other dish.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small Japanese eggplant, diced
8 ounces white button mushrooms, diced
1 medium white onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup dry green lentils
2 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 sprigs fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add eggplant, mushrooms, onion, carrots, and garlic to skillet. Cook vegetables for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add tomatoes and tomato paste to vegetable mixture. Stir well to combine.
Stir in lentils; add broth and stir until thoroughly combined. Turn up heat to bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently for 25-30 minutes or until lentils are tender.
Stir in parsley, basil, salt, and pepper.
Serve over cooked pasta and top with shredded Parmesan cheese.
If you do not have fresh herbs, you can substitute 3-4 Tbsp of dried Italian herb blend in place of the parsley and basil.
Make this marinara on a Sunday to last all week.
Keep leftovers chilled in fridge for 5-6 days.
Freeze marinara mixture for up to 3 months.
To defrost, either leave in fridge overnight or place in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water, cover with lid, and heat until hot, stirring occasionally.
Don’t like one of the veggies on the ingredient list? Swap it out with any other vegetable you can dice: bell pepper, zucchini, yellow squash…
Bonus recipe idea: Place marinara mixture in a casserole dish or oven-proof skillet, cover mixture with mashed potatoes, bake at 425° for 10-15 minutes for a delicious Vegan Lentil Shepherd’s Pie!