This recipe for Pasta with Lentils, Kale and Mushrooms, is super tasty and easy to make. It's loaded with flavour and the perfect dinner for busy weeknights.
I've been making this pasta with lentils for a few years now. It has been a regular on my weeknight dinner roster for about 4 years now. It's fresh and zesty but earthy at the same time. Packed with lentils and greens this is great for getting the kids to eat their veggies.
This pasta dish is one of my favourites as it's more on the lighter side, we all love cheesy pasta bakes but sometimes you just need something a little lighter. This dish is still everything you want from a good pasta dish though, it's filling, comforting and very tasty.
What You'll Need
- Kale - I use curly kale for this, it needs to be chopped and woody stems removed. You can use black kale or spinach, other greens work well in this too.
- Lentils - For convenience, I always have either a can or a packet of cooked lentils in the cupboard. Using pre-cooked lentils really reduces the cooking time but you can always use dried lentils if you want. Just cook them before you add them to the dish. Puy lentils work best in this recipe.
- Mushrooms - I use chestnut/brown mushrooms for this recipe as they have more flavour but are not overpowering. You can also use white button mushroom if you want.
- Pasta - Spaghetti, tagliatelle or linguine all work well in this dish. Whole wheat pasta also works well.
How To Make Pasta with Lentils
This is just a quick visual guide, please see the recipe card below for full ingredient list and instructions.
- Toast the pine nuts and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
- Cook the shallots over medium heat until soft, about 15 minutes.
- Add a tablespoon of butter to the pan, once it melts add the mushrooms and cook until they release their juices. Add the garlic and thyme to the pan and cook for a minute.
- Now I add the cooked lentils to the pan and stir them well.
- Finally, I add the kale and lemon juice. Stir the kale into the lentil and mushroom mixture then cover the pan with a lid for a few minutes until the kale is wilted.
- Once the pasta is cooked drain it and return it to the pan. Add the pesto to the pasta and toss well. Once the pasta is covered in pesto add it to the kale and lentils and toss well. Scatter the toasted pine nuts and some lemon zest over the pasta and serve.
Recipe Tips and Variations
- I love kale in this dish but you can easily swap it for spinach, collard greens or black kale. Spinach will take less time to cook.
- Puy lentils can be easily swapped for brown or green lentils if you want. I use pre-cooked lentils for convenience.
- Don't forget to reserve two tablespoons of the pasta water to add to the dish when you add the pesto, this will stop the pasta from being dry.
- This recipe is really easy to make vegan, just swap the butter for a vegan alternative, swap the pesto for vegan pesto and use vegan cheese for serving.
This is a lovely earthy dish, the pine nuts add warmth and the lemon lifts all the flavours. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and a good grating of vegetarian parmesan.
Other Pasta Dishes You'll Love
- Vegan Minestrone - Brimming with beans, pasta, veggies and greens this soup is more like a stew than a soup and makes for a very satisfying dinner.
- Creamy Mushroom Pasta Bake - a delicious veggie dinner, this pasta dish with mushrooms and kale, in a creamy cheesy sauce baked with a crispy topping is perfect comfort food!
- Vegetarian Bolognese - This is our go-to bolognese that never fails to satisfy.
Have you made this Pasta with Lentils Recipe? Rate it and leave me a comment below to let me know what you think!
Pasta with Lentils, Kale and Mushrooms
- 300 g (10 oz) pasta I use spaghetti
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 banana shallots finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 tbsp butter
- 210 g (4 cups, sliced) chestnut mushrooms sliced
- 100 g (1½ cups) of kale chopped, woody stems removed
- 200 g (1 ⅓ cup) cooked Puy lentils
- 50 g (½ a cup) pine nuts toasted
- 4 or 5 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves picked, roughly 1 tablespoon
- 4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 heaped tbsp vegetarian pesto
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp sea salt divided into two portions
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper + more for serving
- ½ a medium Lemon, the zest of.
- Grated vegetarian parmesan for serving
- Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan until they are golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan.Add the chopped shallots along with ¼ teaspoon of sea salt.Cook the shallots over medium heat until they are soft, this will take about 15 minutes. Stir them often to avoid then burning.Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
- Once the shallots are soft add one tablespoon of butter to the pan and once it has melted add the mushrooms.Cook the mushrooms until they release their juices, about 5 minutes.Now add the garlic and thyme and cook for a further minute or two.
- Stir in the Puy lentils, then add the kale and 4 tablespoons of lemon juice.Stir everything together then pop a lid on the pan to wilt the kale.
- When the pasta is cooked, reserve 2 tablespoons of the pasta water then drain the pasta and return it to the saucepan it was cooked in. In a small bowl mix together the pesto two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.Add the pesto and the reserved pasta water to the pasta and toss quickly.Now tip the pasta into the kale and lentil mixture, add half the pine nuts and toss well.
- Serve immediately with the remaining pine nuts, some freshly ground black pepper and plenty of grated vegetarian parmesan.
- Ingredient Swaps - You can swap the puy lentils for brown lentils if you wish. You can use canned lentils or dried if you want. Just make sure you cook the lentils before you add them to the dish. You can easily swap the kale for spinach. And you can swap brown mushrooms for button mushrooms if you want.
- Can I make it ahead? You can cook the shallots the day before if you want to cut down on some time, but other than that this is really best made fresh.
- Can I make this vegan? Yes, this is really easy to veganise. Swap the butter for plant spread, make sure the pesto is vegan and serve with vegan parmesan cheese.
- What about gluten-free? Just use your favourite gluten-free pasta and pesto to make this a gluten-free dish.
- Weights and measurements - For US readers, I use Cuisipro measuring cups and spoons, and a Pyrex measuring jug for liquids. These are the industry standard. Cup/spoon volumes can differ from brand to brand, for accuracy, I recommend weighing all ingredients if possible.
- Nutritional Information is approximate and is based on one serving. It does not include cheese added for serving.
*This recipe was first published on Jan 7, 2017, Updated in January 2021 with new photos, tips and nutritional information.