With school and work-life back in full swing, throughout September I’ll be sharing a month long series of one-pot, super simple, and inexpensive yet healthful recipes- perfect for those on a student’s budget, with a particularly small kitchen, or with a sparse amount of free time (check, check, check to all of the above!). Limited resources- financial, space, or otherwise- shouldn’t have to put a damper on your nutrition needs or your access to a delicious meal- look no further.

It sometimes feels like pasta’s become a taboo- a heavier meal meant for the pre-race athlete or those sneaking a date night splurge. Often loaded with pesky refined sugars, negligible fiber and protein, and a belly that’s famished two hours post meal- it’s about time we give your pasta night a makeover. Today I am so excited to share my take on classic pasta sauce- a simple, nutrient packed, and hearty sauce fit for those craving comfort food flavors without the comfort food calories (sugar, sodium, gluten). By adding fiber and protein packed red lentils, rustically chopped and nourishing eggplant and tomato, and big handfuls of leafy kale or spinach, you instantly elevated your jar of red sauce to a balanced, flavorful, and easy one-pot vegan meal. I serve my Loaded Red Sauce over brown rice spaghetti or whole wheat pasta, topped with 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts.

Loaded Red Sauce [makes 8 servings]
note: this sauce lends itself to customizability- feel free to substitute classic marinara for a basil or garlic tomato sauce, lentils for quinoa, eggplant for zucchini and carrots, or throw in whatever vegetables you have lingering in your fridge- you absolutely can not go wrong. 

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
6 baby or 1 medium eggplant (about ¾ pound), rustically cubed
1 jar (25 ounces) classic marinara sauce (I use organic & dairy free)
2 cups vegetable broth or filtered water
1 cup split red lentils
1 medium tomato (about ½ pound), rustically cubed
1 cup dinosaur kale or spinach, finely chopped

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until just shimmering. Add onion and sauté until soft (about 4-5 minutes). Add eggplant and continue to sauté for an additional 3 minutes or until eggplant begins to soften.

Stir in marinara, broth, red lentils, tomato, and kale and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow sauce to simmer for 60-75 minutes (stirring occasionally), or until lentils are soft. Remove from heat and enjoy!

Nutritional Information [per serving =  ¾ cup]
175 Calories, 25g Carbohydrates, 6.7g Fat, 6.7g Protein, 6.8g Fiber, 6g Sugar

Costing: ~$8.23 per entire recipe, ~1.03 per serving
costing only accounts for amount of ingredient used in recipe, you may have leftover lentils, spinach, etc.

Eggplants, tomatoes, and dinosaur kale provided by Glen’s Garden Market, a locavore-minded market located just outside the heart of Washington, DC’s Dupont Circle. Glen’s has generously gifted me an eight-week CSA [community supported agriculture], overflowing with organic and chemical free local produce.

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