Pasta with Lentils

Traditionally, pasta with chickpeas, or cannellini beans make comforting Italian homey dishes. Inspired by that is this recipe using lentils and peas instead.

What makes this unique is how the pasta is cooked with  their cooking liquid, rather than the usual in a separate pot of salt water. In making this a one pot recipe, the pasta starch is not lost but instead makes the liquid into a velvety creamy sauce.

Ingredients:
1lb ziti with lines (a tubular pasta with lines works better to hold the sauce in the nooks, but of course any shape will do)
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp crushed red peppers (adjust to your level of preferred heat, my version is moderately spicy)
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup green peas (you can use fresh or frozen)
1 large can brown lentils (if you use uncooked, you will need to separately cook them in boiling water for 30-40 minutes until tender)
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil

Servings: 6 to 8

Method:
Pre heat oven to 400F. Spread the broccoli florets on a baking pan evenly, toss with enough olive oil to coat, and sprinkle salt lightly on top. Roast for 20 minutes, remove from heat and set aside.

Drain the cans of lentils, wash well and set aside.

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Instant Pot/Electric Pressure Cooker method:
Use the sauté button and set to high heat. Heat butter and olive oil until butter melts. Add garlic and sauté for 15 seconds. Add onions, bay leaves, and rosemary and cook for 5-6 minutes, until the onion soften and just begin getting some color. Add the tomato paste and crushed red pepper. Cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring often until you see color deepen and the rawness of the tomato paste cooks out. Add the peas and raw pasta together, sprinkle measure salt and mix well.

Add 5 cups of water (for 1lb of pasta). Water will just about cover the mixture. The water added will deglaze your pot if there are any bits stuck to the bottom. Hit the keep warm/cancel button to turn of saute mode. Click on manual, and set 5 minutes (4 mins if you like it more firm than al dente). Quick release the steam immediately.

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Add measured milk, stir well. Add the lentils and broccoli and stir gently. Serve hot with your favorite bread.

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Traditional stovetop method:
Heat butter and olive oil over medium heat in a sauté pan. Add garlic and sauté for 15 seconds. Add onions, bay leaves, and rosemary and cook for 5-6 minutes, until the onion soften and just begin getting some color. Add the tomato paste and crushed red pepper. Cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring often until you see color deepen and the rawness of the tomato paste cooks out. Add the peas and raw pasta together, sprinkle measure salt and mix well.

Add 8 cups water, and bring the whole mixture to boil. Turn the heat to low, let simmer for 15-20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Keep stirring intermittently so the bottom doesn’t burn. Add measured milk, stir well. Add the lentils and broccoli and stir gently. Serve hot with your favorite bread.

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