Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 - 40 minutes
Serves: 4



  • 500g dried spaghetti pasta

For the Ragu

  • 450g dried red lentils
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 red capsicum, seeds removed and finely diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 2 tins of diced tomatoes
  • 1 litre of vegetable or beef stock
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 large tbsp tomato paste
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


In a large pan, heat oil over a moderate heat. Add garlic, onion, carrot, celery and capsicum and cook, stirring for approximately 10 minutes until vegetables are softened.

Add the dried lentils to the pan along with diced tomatoes, tomato paste and stock. Cover and simmer for approximately 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure lentils don’t stick to the pan. Add a little extra hot water during cooking if required and ensure lid is replaced between stirring to avoid liquid evaporating.

Stir in the balsamic vinegar and just the leaves from the thyme sprigs. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Meanwhile as sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Add spaghetti pasta and cook as per directions on pack.

Once cooked, drain spaghetti, retaining a small amount of the cooking water to add to and stir through the drained spaghetti to avoid it drying out.

To serve, add a large spoonful of spaghetti to a bowl and top with the ragu. Add some freshly ground pepper, grated parmesan and a sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves to garnish.


The ragu will taste even more flavoursome the next day. It can be made ahead and kept in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days. Alternatively, you can freeze the ragu, making sure it is fully defrosted before reheating.

Dried herbs can be used in the ragu instead of the fresh thyme. Other herbs will also work well such as basil and parsley. When using more delicate herbs it is preferable to stir these through the ragu towards the end of cooking to preserve their freshness.

Other types of pasta such as pappardelle, penne or tagliatelle can be substituted as an alternative to spaghetti.


Sarah Hemsley | A Slow Gathering 2020


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