This easy pumpkin pasta sauce is exactly what you need in a quick, tasty pantry pasta sauce. This vegetarian pasta sauce is made with red lentils for a hearty dinner.
Prepared with just a few ingredients, most of which you probably have already, this meal comes together so quickly. In fact, the sauce will likely be close to finished right as your pasta water boils.
Here’s what you need:
- Butter or plant-based butter
- A few spices
- Red lentils
- Whole peeled tomatoes
- Canned pumpkin puree
- Water or stock, as needed
- Pasta of your choice
You can choose to add a touch of heavy cream or whole or plant-based milk at the end of the recipe, but it’s totally not necessary. It all depends on how you like your vegetarian pasta sauce.
How to make this easy pumpkin pasta sauce:
Fortunately, this recipe is a breeze to make and the only prep you need to do is dice an onion.
First, cook the onion until it softens. Melt butter into the onion and add your spices. To play off the sweetness of the pumpkin, I brought in warming chili powder, silk chili, sumac, crushed red pepper, and paprika. Let the spices sizzle in the butter for 45 seconds to bloom.
Next, add the red lentils and cook them for 1 minute, tossing them to coat in the spices.
From there, simply add the whole-peeled tomatoes and the pumpkin, and a bit of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes until the lentils are very tender. Once the lentils are tender, you can choose to add a splash of heavy cream or plant-based milk or even coconut milk to finish the sauce.
While the sauce simmers, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Add a scoop of the pasta water to the sauce and add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. That’s it!
Looking for more vegetarian recipes? Check my archives!
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Easy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
- Wide pot
- Large pot
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 yellow onion peeled and diced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon silk chili
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon sumac
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ¾ cup red lentils
- ½ cup water or vegetable stock
- 28- ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
- 15- ounce can pumpkin puree
- ½ teaspoon sugar optional
- 16 ounces pasta of choice
- ½ cup pasta cooking water
- A splash of heavy cream optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the onion:
- Heat the oil in a wide pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the diced onion. Stir regularly until the onion is softened, about 5–7 minutes.
Bloom the spices:
- Melt the butter into the onion. Once bubbly, add the chili powder, silk chili, paprika, sumac, and crushed red pepper. Cook for 45 seconds until fragrant.
Cook the lentils:
- Add the lentils to the pot and toss to coat with the spices—cook for 1 minute.
Simmer the pasta sauce:
- Add water or stock and bring to a boil. Add the whole peeled tomatoes and the pumpkin and season with salt and pepper. Add the sugar, if you like. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes. Stir the sauce occasionally to prevent it from sticking. Add a splash of water as needed—taste and season once more to your preferences. If you like, add a splash of heavy cream to the sauce. Stir to combine.
Cook the pasta:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package instructions and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Drain.
Sauce the pasta:
- Add the pasta cooking water along with the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Taste and season once more.
- Divide the pasta between shallow bowls and garnish with parsley, if you like. Enjoy!