Posted by on Nov 6, 2015 in Vegetable World | 0 comments

I don’t like whole wheat pasta. That used to make me sad but it doesn’t anymore. Admitting a dislike for something that is one of the staples of the well-being movement seems to me a  kind of personal growth. Given the amount of pasta I eat (not much) and the amount of whole grains, beans and vegetables I consume (quite a bit), I’ve made peace with my dislike of whole wheat pasta. If you don’t share my view on whole wheat pasta feel free to use it here. Another very personal note about this dish: I’m not a huge salt eater. I eat virtually no fast food (pizza doesn’t count), very little processed food, etc., but I feel this spaghetti cries out for salt, even with the capers, grated cheese and canned tomatoes that are in it. Wait until you’ve stirred the cheese into the spaghetti and decide for yourself.

Makes 1 1/2 cups sauce; enough to generously sauce 2 servings. The sauce can be easily doubled to serve 4 or to freeze half for another meal.

1/4 cup lentils
4 ounces spaghetti*
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
1/4 cup diced fresh or canned tomatoes
2 tablespoons capers
Large pinch crushed red pepper
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
Sea salt
grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
5 or 6 pale leaves from the heart of the celery, if you have them, coarsely chopped

Rinse the lentils under cool water and pick out any non-lentil objects you may find. Put the lentils in a small saucepan with enough water to cover by 3 inches and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, not mushy, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the garlic and carrots and cook, shaking the pan until the galric is fragrant, half a minute or so. Add the tomatoes, capers, and red pepper. Pour in the water, reduce the heat to simmering and cook until the lentils are done cooking.

Drain the lentils and add them to the sauce along with the parsley. Simmer 5 minutes, then turn off the heat under the sauce. Stir the spaghetti into the boiling water and cook, stirring constantly for the first minute or two until the pasta is al dente. Use a coffee mug to take out some of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. Return the spaghetti to the pot. Add the lentil sauce and stir over low heat. If the sauce is too chunky to cling to the spaghetti evenly, drizzle in some of the reserved pasta cooking water.

Season the spaghetti with salt and a little more red pepper if you like. Remove the pan from the heat, grate in about 1/4 cup of the cheese and stir it into the spaghetti. Plate up the pasta, scatter the celery leaves, if you have them, over the top, and pass the rest of the cheese separately.
*An old trick: If you stand 4 ounces (2 servings) of spaghetti on end it will pretty much cover the circumference of a nickel; 2 ounces (1 serving) will cover a dime. Or could do what I always do, which is look at a bunch of spaghetti and say, “Eh, that looks like 4 ounces.”