Similar to a bolognese this hearty Sicilian lentil pasta is flavorful with mushrooms and pancetta.
Sicilian lentil pasta is a light and easy dish that is like a lentil bolognese with a nice bite from mushrooms and a lot of flavor from pancetta. The lentils give the dish body, with sweetness from carrots and a nice hearty pasta bite from the rigatoni.
Lentils and rigatoni are a traditional Italian pairing. My husband is Sicilian and this is his favorite pasta dish that I make for him.
Sicilians eat lentils as a symbol of good luck and prosperity – so eat up your lentils, they’re good luck and good for you!
- 1 cup dry brown lentils, rinsed
- ½ medium onion
- 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 ounces pancetta, diced
- 2 ounces cremini mushrooms, finely chopped * see note
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped * see note
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped * see note
- 2 medium carrots, finely chopped * see note
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces rigatoni pasta
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Add a good handful of salt (the water should taste like ocean water, not too salty)
- Add the lentils, ½ onion and celery
- Bring back to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes
- While they cook 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 cook for 2 more minutes, stirring so the garlic doesn't burn
- Add the tomato paste and stir until well mixed
- Drain the lentils and add to the vegetables along with 1 cup of the liquid.
- Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
- Remove the lid and cook for 3 more minutes until the sauce thickens.
- Add pepper and taste, adjust seasoning as needed
- Bring the lentil water back to a simmer and add the pasta, cook according to package directions
- When the pasta is done, drain and add to the lentil sauce and mix well
- Serve in bowls and top with parmesan and parsley