This vegan red lentil pasta sauce is easy to make in under 30 minutes with healthy, everyday ingredients. Bonus: it’s high in protein and fiber!

Bowl of pasta noodles with tomato vegetable sauce and fresh basil on top.

Recipe Features

  • quick and easy – you’ll need just 30 minutes and a handful of simple ingredients
  • dietary needs – vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, soy-free and nut-free
  • nutritious – 14 grams of plant-based protein and 10 grams of fiber per serving

What You’ll Need

Labelled ingredients for making red lentil pasta sauce.
  • red lentils – the recipe is best with red lentils but you could use green if you like, they’ll take a bit longer to cook so just follow package instructions
  • tomato sauce – any store-bought, homemade tomato sauce or pre-mixed pasta sauce works, I love a good arrabiatta sauce like Rao’s
  • bell peppers – any color works!
  • onion and garlic – for flavour, don’t skip ’em!
  • spinach – fresh spinach for some nutritional oomph

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1. Cook the lentils by bringing 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan then adding the lentils, reducing to a light simmer, covering and cooking for 15 minutes until tender.

Red lentils cooking in a large pot on a gas range stovetop.

Step 2. While the lentils are cooking, chop up the veggies then add them to a skillet with the tomato sauce. If you’re adding red pepper flakes for spicy sauce, add those now as well.

Quick Note: If you’re serving the sauce over pasta, start cooking the pasta according to package instructions now.

Chunky vegetable pasta sauce cooking in a skillet on a gas cooktop.

Step 3. Stir in the cooked red lentils and the spinach. If you’re adding nutritional yeast, stir that in now as well.

Red lentils and fresh spinach in a skillet of tomato sauce on a gas stovetop.

Mix everything up, heat through, then serve over pasta topped with fresh basil and vegan parmesan!

A bowl of tomato pasta with fresh basil, skillet of tomato sauce in the backgroun.

Tips and Notes

  • Additional Veggies: Amp up the veggies by adding diced carrot, zucchini or mushroom along with the onion and garlic.
  • Herbs: Add fresh or dried herbs such as oregano or basil for extra depth of flavour.

Serving Ideas

  • enjoy on its own as a healthy stew
  • mix in plant-based sausage such as Field Roast
  • serve over zucchini noodles for a low-carb option
  • serve over chickpea or lentil pasta for a high-protein meal
  • serve over your favourite regular pasta – penne, bows, spaghetti, bows and macaroni all work great!
  • for gluten-free pasta, use bean, quinoa or brown rice pasta
  • top with plenty of nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan for cheesy flavour
A bowl of spaghetti mixed with tomato sauce and fresh basil.

Storage

  • Fridge: Let cool then store in a sealed container for up to 4 days.
  • Freezer: Let cool then store in a sealed container for up to 2 months.
  • Reheating: If frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave or in a saucepan stovetop until warmed to your preference.

Did you try this recipe? I’d love to hear about it! Scroll down to the comment section to leave a star rating and review.
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Bowl of pasta noodles with tomato vegetable sauce and fresh basil on top.
Print Recipe
5 from 5 votes

Red Lentil Pasta Sauce

This hearty vegetable lentil pasta sauce is delicious served over a big bowl of spaghetti or zucchini noodles. Bonus: it’s ready in 30 minutes and high in protein and fiber for a sneaky, healthy weeknight meal!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Diet: Vegan
Servings: 4
Calories: 241kcal
Author: Deryn Macey

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked red lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups tomato pasta sauce of choice
  • 2 bell peppers any colour, diced
  • 1 white onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 handfuls of fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast optional, adds cheesy flavour
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes optional, for spicy sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • To make the lentils, bring the water to a boil in a pot then add the lentils, cover and reduce to a light simmer. Cook until the water is absorbed and the lentils are tender, approximately 15 minutes. These can be made in advance if needed.
  • If you’re serving over pasta, cook that now according to package instructions. The sauce also works well over zucchini noodles.
  • Add the peppers, garlic, onion and tomato sauce to a large skillet and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring often over medium heat. If you’re using red pepper flakes for spicy sauce, add those now. Stir in the spinach and cooked lentils. If you’re adding nutritional yeast, add that now as well. Cook for a couple more minutes, stirring every so often, then turn off the heat. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.
  • Serve over your favourite pasta or zucchini noodles, toped with more nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan, fresh cracked black pepper and chopped fresh basil, if desired.

Notes

Storage: Let cool then store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days or freezer for up to 2 months. If frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave or in a saucepan stovetop until warmed to your preference.
Additional Veggies: Add up to 1.5 cups diced carrot, zucchini or mushrooms along with the onion and garlic.
Herbs: Add fresh or dried herbs such as oregano or basil for extra depth of flavour.
Nutrition: Sodium, fat and carbs will vary based on the type of tomato pasta sauce used. Nutrition facts are for plain tomato sauce.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1/4 of recipe | Calories: 241kcal | Carbohydrates: 45.5g | Protein: 14.8g | Fat: 1.7g | Sodium: 44mg | Fiber: 9.5g | Sugar: 8g

    Update Note: Originally published on July 9, 2018. Updated with new photos and text on August 12, 2020.