Red Lentil Penne with Chickpea “Meatballs” and Spicy Tomato Sauce

These meatless “meatballs” are the perfect choice for a plant-based main dish.

1 box Barilla Red Lentil Pasta
2 garlic cloves
1 egg
1/2 cup chickpeas
1/4 cup Parmigiano Cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup panko
3 cups San Marzano tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 cup onion, julienne
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup Parmigiano reggiano, grated
10 basil leaves, julienne
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the first 6 ingredients, starting with garlic, and pulse until smooth.
  3. Remove from the processor and roll into quarter sized balls.
  4. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and sear on all sides.
  5. Remove the meatballs from the skillet and add remaining olive oil, onion and chili flakes, then sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Cook the pasta according to the directions, drain, and combine with the sauce and meatballs.
  8. Garnish with the cheese and basil before serving.