Pantry Staple Pasta Sauce

We returned from a short vacation Friday night and Saturday was filled with all the errands except for grocery shopping. As a dinner time approached I turned to the cupboard to see what kind of thing I could cobble together.

Lentils and chickpeas provide a bit of protein in a vegetarian dish. We served it with some grated Parmesan cheese, cracked black pepper and a splash of extra virgin olive oil.

Pantry Staple Pasta Sauce
Servings: 4+
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes


  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 sm. onion, diced
  • 1 sm. bell pepper, diced
  • 1 Serrano pepper, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 zucchini, remove ends, quarter, remove seeds and cut into 3/4″ pieces
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 ~28 oz. box chopped tomatoes (such as these)
  • 1/2 pound dry pasta, prepared according to the box
  • kosher salt and black pepper, as needed


  1. Heat olive oil in a 4 qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell pepper and a big pinch of salt. Toss to coat in oil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the minced Serrano and garlic, stir to incorporate and cook until fragrant; about 1 minutes.
  3. Stir in the dried herbs, red pepper flake and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Push the onions,peppers, etc. to the edge of the pan and add the zucchini. Try to get the zucchini into a single layer on the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes until lightly browned.
  4. Stir the red lentils into the saucepan until distributed. Add the chopped tomatoes and about 3/4 cup of water. Stir to combine, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes uncovered.
  5. Stir again and taste for seasoning. Adjust salt, pepper and herbs as desired.
  6. Stir in the chickpeas and artichoke hearts. Heat over low for about 5 minutes until the chickpeas are heated through.
  7. Add the cooked pasta and serve.

The boxed tomatoes can be replaced with a 28 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes which have been broken down by squeezing or chopping. Or, you can, if desired, chop up about 2 pounds of fresh tomatoes. I’d cook an extra five minutes if using the fresh ones.

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