Rigatoni with Red Bell Peppers, Spinach and Lentils

Rigatoni with Red Bell Peppers, Spinach and Lentils

2 large red bell peppers
14 ounces rigatoni
3 cups tender spinach, washed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Half cup brown or green lentils, cooked, or a 14-ounce can
Squeeze of lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper

If you are using dry lentils, cook them first (no need to soak) in plenty of water until tender. This takes about 30 to 50 minutes, depending on the lentils, so keep checking them toward the end of their cooking time. Serves 4.

1. First prepare the bell peppers by cutting them into quarters and placing, skin-side (shiny side) up, on a broiler pan. Put under high heat for 10-15 minutes, until the skin has blistered and blackened in places. Cover the peppers with a plate and leave until cook enough to handle, then remove the skin, stem and seeds, and cut the flesh into strips.

2. Fill a large saucepan with 4 quarts of water and bring to a boil over high heat for pasta.

3. When the water in the saucepan boils, add the pasta along with a tablespoon of salt and give the pasta a quick stir. Briefly put the lid on until it starts to lift, showing that the water has come back to a boil, then let the pasta bubble away, uncovered, for about 8 minutes, or until it is tender but still has some bite to it.

4. Meanwhile, dry the spinach leaves on paper towels and cook in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan for 2-3 minutes, or until it is just wilted. Add the lentils and their liquid and heat gently. Add a dash of lemon juice to taste and season with salt and pepper.

5. Drain the pasta by tipping it all into a colander placed in the sink, then put it back in to the still-warm pan. Either add the remaining olive oil to the pasta, serve it on warm plates and put the spinach mixture and the peppers on top; or add all of these to the pasta, toss gently and serve immediately on warm plates.

Excerpted from Vegetarian Pasta by Rose Elliot Copyright© 1997 by Rose Elliot. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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