Penne w/Lentils
At our house we always have 1 to 2 vegetarian dinners a week.  You don’t have to have meat, chicken, fish or pork every day.  When I was an active personal chef, I always had at least 1 vegetarian to cook for.  It’s a little bit of a challenge to create vegetarian meals that retain great flavor after freezing.  One of the ingredients that I have found really freezes great and tastes great are lentils.  You need to use either the green or brown lentils.  If you use the red or yellow then you will get mush.  These are used for making dal and adding to soups for thickening.  They are so full of nutrition and of course protein and have no saturated fat!!
You do have to clean them as you would dried beans.  Every once in a while you get a stone.  Good don’t have to soak them for quicker cooking.  They do take about 40 to 45 minutes to cook up.  But if you are making them ahead to freeze be sure and cool them (see picture below) well before.  You can also cook up your pasta ahead, making it a little al dente and when cooled freeze in freezer bags.  Then when you are ready to eat you can put the thawed pasta in boiling water for just a minute or so and reheat the sauce.  
If you want more spicey then add more tabasco pepper sauce or the red pepper flakes for “zing”. Also great over Spaghetti Squash. Which by the way freezes. For 4 servings this is what you will need.
3/4 cup lentils, green or brown
2 1/2 cups V-8 Juice
1 cup water
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup celery, chopped, small chop
2 teaspoons either sugar or Splenda
2 bay leaves
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Tabasco pepper sauce
8 ounces whole wheat Penne Pasta
(you could also use spaghetti or angel hair)
1/4 cup REAL Parmesan cheese, grated
3 sprigs thyme, dried, optional
I didn’t have peas, but the addition of green peas is really tasty and makes a beautiful nutritious dish!!
Rinse and clean the lentils.
In a large saucepan combine the lentils, vegetable juice, water, onion, celery, sugar, bay leaves and Tabasco or red pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 40 to 45 miknutes or until lentils and vegetables are tender.  COOL as pictured.
Discard the bay leaves and place into a freezer container.  Place penne in ziplock bags.  
REHEATING:  Thaw the sauce in the refrigerator the day before or put in a bowl with very cold water.  It should take about 30 minutes.  Put the penne in a pot of boiling water and cook for about 1 minute or until tender.  Top the penne with the lentil sauce and Parmesan cheese.  YUM!!
Per 2 oz penne and 1 cup of lentil sauce: 368 calories; 2g fat; 20g protein; 14g fiber and 112mg sodium.  Exchanges: 4 grain; 1 lean meat; 1/2 vegetable; 0 fat; 0 other carbs.  
Penne w/Lentils
Wednesday, January 10, 2007