Exotic Saffron-Scented Pasta with Lentils

Saffron-flavored broth with a burst of lemon is the base for seasoned, spicy lentils over pasta. Add a taste contrast with a topping of Greek yogurt, if you wish.


  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • Salt
  • 1 pound egg tagliatelle pasta or other wide egg pasta
  • 2 pinches saffron threads
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon, divided
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin oilve oil (EVOO)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, very finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, very finely chopped or grated
  • 1 small chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 sweet pepper, red or yellow in color, very finely chopped
  • 1/2 palmful coriander (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/3 palmful cumin (about 1 teaspoon)
  • A handful of fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped, for garnish
  • A few spoonfuls of thick plain Greek-style yogurt (optional garnish)


Rinse the lentils and place in a small pot. Cover the lentils with water and bring to a boil; season with salt and cook until tender, about 25-30 minutes. Rinse well and drain.

Place the saffron threads, stock and lemon zest in another small pot and heat to a low boil. Reduce the heat to low to keep warm.

When the lentils are done, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Season the water with salt and cook the pasta to al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the EVOO, a turn of the pan, over medium heat. Melt butter into the EVOO and add the onion, garlic, chili pepper and sweet pepper, then season with salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the lentils and season with the coriander and cumin and adjust the salt, to taste.

Add the saffron broth and the lemon juice and cooked pasta. Toss the pasta with the lentils for 1-2 minutes and serve in shallow bowls with cilantro and yogurt on top, if desired, for mixing in.

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