This cheesy lentil pasta is the perfect hearty comfort food - made in just 20 minutes, with 6 store cupboard ingredients! Plus it's kid friendly and full of goodness.
I know I always share easy recipes, but this cheesy lentil pasta recipe is suuuper simple, even for me - I figure that's what we could all do with right now. There's enough on our minds without having to worry about what we're eating, so this comforting, cheesy lentil pasta can be on the table in 20 minutes, using just 6 common store cupboard ingredients. Hooray!
Kid-friendly lentil pasta
I actually came up with this recipe when making dinner for my kids ages ago. My 2 year old would have pasta for dinner every night if I let her, so to make it a bit more nutritious, I started throwing some red lentils into the same pan. They boil in the same time as the pasta, so it's a really easy addition.
When you add some cheese to the cooked lentils and pasta, something a bit magical happens, and it becomes this creamy, gooey, comforting bowl of deliciousness.
I'm not sure you could even tell there are lentils in it if you didn't know beforehand - it's more just like a really hearty macaroni cheese, with lots of added nutrition.
What are the benefits to adding lentils?
There are all sorts of reasons why it's a really great idea to add lentils to your pasta as it cooks:
- they add about 15g of fibre to every portion of this recipe
- they add nearly 13g of protein per portion
- they add 4mg of iron per portion (that's about 20% of your recommended daily amount!)
- they break right down as they cook (which is why a lentil pizza topping works so well!), and they combine with the grated cheese to make a hearty, comforting cheesy sauce
- they bulk out the dish and make it extra filling and satisfying, to make it feed more people
So basically, lentils are really good for you, they're delicious, and they're nice and filling - what's not to love?
One pot pasta with lentils
This is a one pot recipe, as everything cooks in the same pan - the lentils, the pasta, and whatever vegetables you choose to add. Just chuck it all in a big pan, add plenty of water, and let it all cook together.
No faffing, no fuss, and only one pan to wash up - perfect.
I always use frozen veggies in this recipe, as they're so easy to just throw in the pan along with the pasta and lentils. Of course you can use fresh veg instead if you prefer - just choose something that will cook in a pan in around 15 minutes. Or, you can cook the veg separately.
This time I used frozen peas, frozen sweetcorn, and frozen mushrooms, as those are three veg that my kids enjoy eating every single time. I know not all children are mushroom lovers, so if you are cooking for little ones, feel free to use whatever veg they like.
Make it cheesy!
Then, you just need to add the cheese!
I've made this cheesy lentil pasta with cheese that I've grated myself from a block, and I've also done it with pre-grated cheese from a packet - both work well, so it just depends how lazy you're feeling (no judgement either way!).
Just make sure you use a cheese with plenty of flavour. Since the other ingredients in this recipe are really simple, the cheese is how we're elevating everything to be really tasty. A nice mature cheddar is perfect, and a tangy goat cheese sauce is always lovely on pasta too. I'd avoid anything really mild like mozzarella, unless you're planning to add some flavour elsewhere instead.
What else could I add to this cheesy lentil pasta?
As I said, this recipe is super simple - just 6 staple ingredients. It's not haute cuisine, it's not the sort of thing I'd make for guests or for a special occasion, but it is good, tasty food that can be on the table quickly and leaves everyone feeling satisfied.
If you want to amp things up a bit, feel free to put your own spin on the recipe!
A few ideas:
- add a dollop of pesto or sun-dried tomato paste
- mix in a few extras like black olives, fresh herbs, etc.
- add Tex-Mex style spices and black beans
- serve topped with chilli salt
Whether you choose to add your own twist, or make the recipe as written, this cheesy lentil pasta is just the type of tasty, hearty comfort food we all need at the moment. Enjoy!
Cheesy Lentil Pasta
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- 300 g (~ 10 ½ oz) pasta
- 200 g (~ 1 cup) red lentils
- 150 g (~ 1 cup) frozen sweetcorn
- 150 g (~ 1 cup) frozen peas
- 200 g (~ 1 ⅔ cups) frozen sliced mushrooms
- 175 g mature cheddar cheese, grated (~ 1 ¾ cups when grated)
- Black pepper
- Add all of the ingredients except for the cheese to a large saucepan. Add a generous amount of water, and boil for around 15 minutes, until the pasta is soft and the lentils are starting to break down. Drain the water.
- Add the grated cheese and some salt and pepper to the pan, and turn the heat down low. Mix well to combine, until the cheese has fully melted. Best served immediately.
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.