JOIN! 12 Weeks for $1

Instant Pot

Pasta with Spicy Tomato-Lentil Sauce

6 Servings

1 hour 30 minutes active

Made This Recipe? Write a Review.
Thank you for submitting your review! A member of our team is confirming the review meets our site's Community Guidelines. It will be posted on the site shortly.

Italian pasta e lenticchie features the unlikely pairing of two humble ingredients—pasta and lentils—to create a comforting, rib-sticking dish. Here we use French lentils du Puy, which hold their shape nicely, and give them a head start by simmering them for 10 minutes before adding the pasta and switching to pressure cooking. A generous amount of chopped parsley adds color and fresh, grassy notes, while toasted and seasoned panko breadcrumbs sprinkled over the finished dish adds a satisfying crispness. Though this dish already is rich with carbs, we liked serving it with crusty bread to mop up the flavorful sauce.




Don't use a pasta shape that cooks in under 10 minutes (check the cooking directions on the package for the recomm xssended cooking time). Since the pasta is cooked directly in the sauce with the lentils, a fast-cooking shape will end up overdone by the time the lentils are tender. Also, don't used canned tomato sauce, which already is seasoned. Make sure to purchase canned tomato puree, which consists of only tomatoes and citric acid.

1 hour

30 minutes active


  • 4

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve

  • ½

    cup panko breadcrumbs


Pardon the interruption

You need to be a Milk Street Digital Member to see the full recipe


and get access to all of our recipes and articles online, as well as in print.

How we use your email.

Your email address is required to identify your subscription. We will use it for customer service as well as other communications from Milk Street. We will not share, or rent your email address.

Nathan W.
September 21, 2022
Timing is perfect; needs flavor boost.
Tried this for the first time today, and I followed Mary S.'s advice about adding garlic (3 minced cloves tossed in when the onions were almost done) and a bay leaf. The timing for cooking the lentils and pasta was spot-on -- used DeCecco mezzi rigatoni and it was perfectly al dente after the pressure cooking step. I thought the flavor still needed a boost to take it over the top, so I added a couple dashes of Maggi sauce (soy sauce or liquid aminos would also do the trick), a small handful of grated parm, a tiny pinch of sugar, and more salt. It was much more well-rounded after this. Just be prepared to adjust the seasoning at the end to your own taste! (Also wait to add the parsley to the breadcrumbs until you're ready to eat, because the moisture from the parsley will soften the panko if it sits too long).
Maria B.

Can you please add instructions for the stovetop?

Lynn C.

Hi Maria -

This recipe was developed for the Instant Pot from our Fast and Slow cookbook. Unfortunately, we don't have a version of this recipe for the stovetop. We do, however, have this recipe which is similar: Hope that helps!

The Milk Street Team

Mary S.

I noticed the tip not to use pasta that cooks in under 10 minutes at the last second, and found that none of my pantry small pastas needed more than 8 minutes. Struck out with shells, ditali, and elbows. In the end I used orecchiette - and it tasted fine, but felt too big to me. I noticed the Whole Foods Cavatelli today in the store and it's 10-11 minutes in case anyone else has the same issue. This recipe gets huge points for simplicity and most of the ingredients are pantry items, but I feel like it was lacking in flavor depth. Husband and kids loved it, so I'll try it again, and next time I will use cavatelli and add garlic to the onion. I also might sneak a bay leaf in there too.