Garlic and olive oil, warmed together until deliciously fragrant, with or without a hit of hot chili pepper, makes a classic pasta sauce, throughout Italy, especially good when you need something delicious and fast. Adding lentils makes it a hearty, protein-rich dish.

  Time: 15-20 minutes
  Difficulty: easy
  Serves: 4-6


  • 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more if and as needed

  • several pinches hot chili pepper flakes, optional

  • 500 g canned brown lentils, drained

  • salt to taste

  • 400 g spaghetti


Lightly sauté the garlic in the extra virgin olive oil until fragrant and it just starts to turn golden; add the chili pepper flakes (if using) and the lentils, and stir together, cooking to cloak it all in the fragrant oil. Salt to taste and set aside.

Boil the spaghetti in rapidly boiling salted water until just al dente. Drain and reserve about 250 ml of the pasta water.

Add the spaghetti to the pan with the lentils and garlic olive oil, toss a minute or two together over medium heat, adding the pasta cooking water, a few tablespoons at a time, until it emulsifies into a sauce to cling to the pasta and lentils.

Serve right away, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil if desired.