Creamy Lentils and Shells! We are always in the mood for cozy, comforting pasta. This ultra-velvety sauce nestled in mini shells with “meaty” lentils totally makes us swoon.
Bringing all those amazing Italian herbs and spices together with this delicious, hearty, and oil-free Creamy Lentils and Shells dish, your week night meals just got a whole new flavor boost. Garlic, onions, hearty lentils and tender pasta shells are swimming in a delightfully delicious tomato-based sauce. The whole family will be singing your culinary praises all week.
Whole Food Plant Based, Vegan, plant based, oil free, refined sugar free, no highly processed ingredients and gluten free.
Hi there, Ameera here!
We are obsessed with this comforting and filling Creamy Lentils and Shells. This hearty pasta dish is so easy to make and comes together quickly. The big kids (adults) and little kids alike will love it.
There’s something about those tasty little shells that fill with creamy sauce and lentils for a burst of flavor in each bite.
Tips for Success:
- Amount of Pasta: While it is very tempting to use a full pound of pasta, we strongly recommend using the ingredient amount listed, 12 oz. If you use more than the listed amount, you could end up with a drier pasta dish as the pasta really drinks up the sauce.
- Sautéed Onions: Make sure you sauté the onions until perfectly tender. The pasta sauce does not cook for a long period of time which would normally tenderize the onions. If needed, add a tablespoon or two of water to steam them to tender.
- Low-Fat Dish: This dish was designed to be low in fat. Because it is low in fat, you are not going to experience that endorphin rush associated with eating high-fat foods when eating this dish. It is very tasty for what it is, and that is a low-fat dish. We just want to make sure that our Readers recognize this when contemplating making this recipe. If you wish to make it more indulgent, add the Vegan Parmesan Cheese on individual servings. The vegan parm totally ramps up the decadence factor.
- Lentils Substitutions: You can substitute the lentils for 8 oz. of sautéed mushrooms (cremini mushrooms) or a complimentary bean, like a navy bean. If substituting the lentils for sautéed mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms in 1 Tablespoon of tamari for approximately 5 minutes to allow them to reduce in size, then remove them from the skillet (along with any leftover liquids) and set aside. Add the mushrooms (and any leftover liquids) back into the skillet when the tomato sauce mixture is added.
- Baking Soda: Baking soda is often used as a neutralizer for dishes that contain a lot of acidity, typically from tomatoes. We use it in this dish to remove some of the tomato acidity (from the tomato sauce) without losing the tomatoey flavor. When you add it, the mixture will bubble up, then settle down as it neutralizes the acidity.
Leftovers and Freezing:
Leftovers will generally keep for 4-5 days in the refrigerator. Store in a covered container. Reheating can be done on the stovetop, or in the microwave.
This dish can be frozen but is best served immediately after making. The pasta does tend to get mushy when frozen. If frozen, for best results, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Pantry Products Used:
- Vegetable Stock: We use Pacific Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Stock. We love this brand because it is Whole Food Plant Based compliant, as it does not contain MSG, has no oil, and does not contain any highly-processed ingredients.
- Flour: We used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All-purpose Baking Flour Blend. You can use the flour of your choice.
- Lentils: We used Delallo Imported Italian Lentils. They come in a 14 oz. can. Most grocery stores carry them in the specialty aisles. If using dry lentils, select lentils that hold their shape after cooking. Cook dry lentils separately, adjust time accordingly. If cooking dry lentils, use 1 2/3 cups of cooked
Kitchen Products Used:
- Large non-stick skillet or similarly large skillet with a tight-fitting lid. We used a Ceramic/Enamel Lined Skillet with a tight-fitting lid
- Stockpot to boil the pasta)
We certainly hope you give this deliciousness a try.
If you try this comforting dish, we would love to know if you enjoy it as much as we do! Please leave us a review! Post a picture on Facebook or Instagram and tag us! We would love to hear from you.Print
Creamy Lentils and Shells
- Prep Time: 10 Minutes
- Cook Time: 25 Minutes
- Total Time: 35 Minutes
- Yield: 4-5 Servings 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
Delicious, hearty, and oil-free, this healthy Creamy Lentils and Shells dish is a quick and easy weeknight meal the whole family will love.
- 1 medium yellow onion, fine dice
- 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 Tablespoons GF flour *
- ½ cup low-sodium vegetable broth *
- 1 cup water
- 1 – [ 15 oz. can ] tomato sauce
- ½ cup unsweetened plain plant milk
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon pure maple syrup
- 1 – [ 14 oz. can ] brown lentils, drained and rinsed *
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda *
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 Tablespoons dried minced onions
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt *
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 12 oz. GF shells pasta (or pasta of choice)
- Freshly chopped parsley
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- Fill a large stock pot full of water. Add some sea salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil then add the pasta. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Check package directions on cooking times and/or boil the pasta until el dente, drain, rinse with cold water to remove any excess starch, shake well, set aside.
- Place the Spice/Herb Ingredients into a small bowl, mix well, set aside.
- In a large ceramic/enamel lined skillet (or similarly large nonstick skillet) add the finely diced onions, sauté over medium-high heat for 7 to 10 minutes until tender. Add a splash of water or vegetable broth to prevent overbrowning or burning.
- Add the minced garlic, sauté for 30 seconds, then add the flour and sauté for one minute.
- Then add all the remaining Skillet Ingredients except the baking soda, stir well to combine, scraping the bottom of the skillet to make sure you are pulling up any flour that stuck to the bottom of the skillet.
- Add the Spice/Herb Mix, stir well. Bring to a boil, then immediately lower to a simmer. Add the baking soda, stir to combine. Continue to simmer for 7 minutes.
- After 7 minutes, add the cooked pasta. Stir to combine. Simmer for several minutes, then remove from the stove and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
- Serve topped with freshly chopped parsley and/or Vegan Parmesan Cheese.
Please reference the blog post for Tips for Success, Pantry Items Used, Storage and Freezing, and Kitchen Products Used.
*Sea Salt: Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary needs.
Serving: 4 to 5
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Pasta and lentils! Yes please! My two favourite things. Lol. This is a winner! I cooked half the pasta and then took out half the sauce (to save for another day) as it is just two of us.
Really yummy, cheesy goodness.
Hi there Sandra 🙂
Yaaaayyy! We are so thrilled that you enjoyed this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome review with us. We appreciate you taking the time to write.
-Ameera and Robin 🙂
I loved this creamy dish! I added spinach and mushrooms to it and a lot of extra pepper and red pepper flakes. Great leftovers for lunch too since I doubled the recipe : ) Thank you!
Hi there Nina 🙂
Yaaaayyy! We are so happy that you enjoyed this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing your delicious adjustments and wonderful review. We appreciate you taking the time to write.
-Ameera and Robin 🙂
Did you use canned strained tomatoes or marinara sauce when you say tomato sauce? I used POMI strained tomatoes and it didn’t taste right. I added some marinara to balance the spices at the end.
Hi there Kari 🙂
Thank you so much for reaching out to us. We used Hunts Tomato Sauce. It’s a very common ingredient in the US. It is not canned strained tomatoes. It is also not a marinara sauce since. It is typically tomatoes that have been seeded and cooked down into a thick sauce. The typical ingredients are tomatoes and salt. I hope this helps.
-Ameera and Robin 🙂
I loved this recipe! Is it possible to cook the pasta in the sauce to make it a one pot dish?
Hi there Megan,
Thank you for your question. We don’t recommend attempting to cook the pasta in the sauce unless you play around with the liquids. We have not tested it so we do not have any suggestions.
-Ameera and Robin