Warm spices like cumin and paprika, create a deep flavour undertone, which is then enlivened with a touch of bright orange juice and dried apricots to make a vibrant tomato sauce base for lentils and artichokes to mingle in.
The brown lentils and artichoke hearts add to the tapestry of flavours and textures, making this hearty tagliatelle pasta dish an easy weeknight dinner that uses ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.
The other day, Kevin and I were talking about our favourite pasta shapes. When you think of pasta, it’s more or less the same dough shaped differently and they pretty much taste the same. Yet, I tend to find some shapes more appealing than others when it comes to pasta.
Kevin loves the small elbow macaroni while my favourite pasta shape is the tagliatelle. I love how these thin wide ribbon noodles delicately wrap around the fork. What a wonderful mouthfeel!
What about you? What’s your favourite pasta shape?
What I also love about tagliatelle is that it often comes into small nests of about the same weight, which makes measuring and portioning really handy.
Artichoke hearts and lentils in a vibrant tomato sauce go perfectly with tagliatelle pasta. And this is pretty much a rather quick meal too. Dried lentils don’t take long to cook but if you want to save time, you can use a can of lentils instead.
The sauce features the addition of orange juice and dried apricots. I’ve been really fond of using organic dried apricots as a natural sweetener in some dishes lately. They are a great alternative to dates or maple syrup, and have a hint of floral aroma which lends additional flavour to the dish.
I find both orange juice and dried apricots to balance out the earthiness of the lentils while adding a hint of sweetness to the sauce to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes. Just perfect!
You won’t distinctly taste neither the orange nor the apricots in the sauce, but they mingle together into an ambrosial pasta dish that you’ll perhaps love to keep as a weekly rota.
I am no nutrition expert but according to numerous sources, vitamin C helps in the absorption of iron. Hence, the orange juice and lentils in the dish are a great combo in that regard too.
As for tomatoes, choose good quality ones. I am using crushed/blended tomatoes as well as some chunky ones. I love to char some big chunks of tomatoes and add them back to the dish during the last phase of cooking. Aside from additional flavour from the searing, they add a lot of visual appeal to the presentation.
Canned or jarred artichoke hearts will work well in this dish but you can also use fresh artichokes. If using fresh artichokes, you may want to check this easy artichoke pasta salad where we showed (with video) how to prepare and cook fresh artichoke.
If you can’t find artichoke hearts where you live, swap for other vegetables like some pan-fried aubergine (eggplant) or just omit them and add more mushrooms.
And of course, if you feel like using another pasta shape, it’s all good. Any type of pasta, gluten-free or bean pasta, will work too. If using bean pasta, I suggest reducing the lentils by half as bean pasta is really filling all by itself and contains a lot of protein already.
Tagliatelle with Artichoke Hearts and Lentils
- 200 g dried brown lentils, or beluga/du Puy variety, rinsed and drained, [1 cup]
- 750 ml water, [3 cups]
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 large Roma tomatoes, diced into big chunks
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 small onion, diced or sliced, omit if you don’t consume
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil, I used sunflower oil
- 6 artichoke hearts, canned or jarred, quartered
- 8 – 10 white mushrooms
- ½ cup crushed tomatoes, good quality or use pasta sauce
- 6 – 8 dried apricots, finely chopped or minced
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ¾ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
- ½ teaspoon vegetable bouillon powder, or half cube, optional
- Water, as required to make the sauce
- 350 g tagliatelle noodles, or pasta of choice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh herbs, like coriander, parsley, basil…, for garnish, optional
- Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan, then add lentils and bay leaf. Lower the heat, partially cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until lentils are tender but not mushy.
- Alternatively, you may cook the lentils in a pressure cooker. Place lentils, water [600ml, 2½ cups] and bay leaf in the cooker. Close lid and set the cooker on medium pressure (3/5) for 9 minutes. When the time is up, allow the pressure to go down naturally for 8 minutes before releasing any remaining steam and opening the lid.
- Meanwhile, heat one tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced tomatoes. Cook until they are lightly charred on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, add the remaining tablespoon of oil and heat on medium temperature. Add the onions (if usinand minced ginger, saute for about 3 minutes.
- Add the artichoke hearts and cook for about 5 – 8 minutes, while turning them on all sides for even cooking and slight charring.
- Add mushrooms, crushed tomatoes, orange juice, dried apricots, cumin, paprika, dried thyme, chilli flakes and vegetable bouillon powder, and simmer on low for 10 minutes. Partially cover the skillet to avoid splashing.
- Drain lentils and add to the tomato mixture in the pan. Add the charred tomato chunks back into the pan. Stir to combine and simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add water if needed to make more sauce.
- While sauce is simmering, cook tagliatelle or pasta according to package instructions.
- When pasta is al dente, drain and transfer to a serving bowl. Top with lentil and artichoke sauce and more sea salt and pepper if desired.
- Garnish with fresh herbs like coriander/cilantro, parsley or basil, if desired.
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