Linguine with Fennel, Tomato, Garlic and Chilli
I looooooove pasta. Love it. Possibly my all time favourite food and I am not ashamed to admit it. The number one reason to love pasta is clearly the carb high however really this only scrapes the surface. A few reasons to exemplify this point...
- Can jam pack the sauce with veggies. I'm talking 3, 4, maybe even 5 different types
- Lots of different options available such as brown pasta for higher fibre, rice pasta for gluten free, pea pasta for higher protein. The options are endless
- Different shapes. Quinoa is all well and good however it is also very much one size fits all. With pasta you can choose the best shape to suit the sauce (my all time fave has to be linguine although I will be the first to admit that you can't beat a penne under the right circumstances)
I could go on but you get the picture. This particular sauce ticks the boxes of being tasty, easy to cook and having a little added protein with some hidden lentils in there too (also creates a lovely thick textured sauce).
Serves 2-3 **
1 hour to prep and cook
**this allows a lot of sauce per person. Could possibly stretch it to 4, appetite dependent
400g cherry or plum tomatoes, halved
150g red pepper, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 white onion, diced
50g red lentils
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced (the fennel is not blitzed with the rest of the veg so I like to slice with a little more care)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I used the really thick, syrupy stuff)
Juice of approximately half a lemon
100g linguine per portion
Handful of parlsey to serve
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and saute for 5-10 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and chilli and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes before adding the red pepper, tomatoes and some seasoning.
2. Mix the contents of the pan well, gradually squashing the tomatoes to release their juices. Once enough juice has been released to create a decent amount of liquid, add the lentils, tomato puree and balsamic vinegar. Stir well to coat everything, place the lid on the pan and simmer for approximately 20 minutes until the lentils are tender.
3. Once the lentils are cooked, blitz the sauce mixture using a stick blender to a consistency of your liking (I prefer smooth-ish in this instance as the fennel goes in whole to create chunky bits). Once blitzed, taste the sauce before adding the lemon juice and seasoning to taste. You may find that you need more or less lemon juice than the recipe states as this will depend on how sweet the tomatoes were (and also your taste buds)!
4. After blitzing and seasoning, return the sauce to the hob. Add the fennel to the pan and simmer over a gentle heat for approximately 10 minutes. The fennel will still be crunchy which works nicely for this recipe however if you prefer cooked, add the fennel along with the tomatoes and peppers at the start.
5. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the linguine and cook for approximately 10 minutes until al dente. Drain well and serve in warmed bowls with the sauce spooned on top, a little shredded parsley and some grated parmesan (or vegan alternative).