Pair farfalle with lentil Bolognese for a thick, hearty dish


With due apologies to Apple, I'd like to coin a new phrase: There's a pasta for that!

Too often, people get in a rut eating strand pasta (aka spaghetti) of some kind with tomato sauce. There's a reason so many shapes of pasta are for sale in the supermarket. In Italy, more than 400 unique types of pasta ensure that every sauce is complemented by the perfect shape.

A simple way to choose the right pasta is to remember that thick pasta goes with thick sauce and light pasta goes with light sauce.

One of the most famous hearty sauces is Bolognese or ragù. This rich meat sauce takes hours to prepare.

A lentil version uses the same mirepoix (carrots, onions, and celery) base that gives the sauce its intense aroma and flavor. Because it uses lentils instead of meat, the cooking time is greatly reduced. The recipe is both vegetarian and vegan.

A good pasta to stand up to this robust sauce is farfalle (butterflies in Italian). Its "wings" capture the sauce wonderfully and hold up well when reheated.

The secret to a good lentil Bolognese is not rushing the mirepoix. The carrot/onion/celery mixture should be cooked slowly over a low flame until the onions are translucent and the carrots and celery are cooked through.

This techniques, called "sweating" the vegetables, can be done at the same time as the lentils are cooking.

The sun-dried tomato paste, though not absolutely necessary, will give the sauce an extra flavor boost. It comes in a tube and will keep in the refrigerator for months.

Pasta with Lentil Bolognese

2/3 cup lentils

2 1/4 cups water

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped

1 teaspoon sun-dried tomato paste

1 1/2 teaspoons salt or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound farfalle

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Cook the lentils in the water for 40 minutes or until soft.

In the meantime, saute the onion, garlic, celery and carrot in the olive oil until tender. Add the tomatoes and sun-dried tomato paste, and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the vegetable mixture to the cooked lentils and season with salt and pepper. Simmer covered for 10 minutes. Cook the farfalle according to package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving one cup of the pasta water. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss. If the sauce seems too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water. Serve topped with chopped parsley.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section.