Growing up my Mom would make spaghetti once a week. It was always my favorite. I’d always help her stir the sauce. The smell of sweet tomatoes and pasta always takes me back to those memories with her.

She worked hard, and always made dinner for us; myself, my brother, and my father.  We never had much money, and to me that never mattered. It was the time and memories we were creating that I take with me that mattered the most. I keep them close to my heart, and I have her to thank after all these years. I looked up to her, and not realizing back then how important these times and memories would be for me, she instilled my passion for food. She cooked with love, and shared that with me, and that’s what made it special.

She inspired me, instilled good values, taught me life lessons, all through food. I have a lot to thank her for, and I miss her every day. So, I’m dedicating this recipe to my Mother, Gloria.

For a vegan parmesan try this: In a coffee grinder add: 2 tbsp. raw almonds, and 1 tbs. nutritional yeast and grind very fine, almost into a powder. Then sprinkle on top of your pasta. It’s healthy, dairy-free and tastes wonderful.

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 pound of spaghetti

1 large can Italian whole plum tomatoes

½ cup lentils, rinsed

3 tbsp. fresh basil, plus extra for garnish

extra virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp. brown sugar

½ tsp. red chili flakes (optional)

parmesan cheese, for garnish

Preparation:

 Get a small pot of water, and a large pot of water, on the stove and set both on high. The small one will be for cooking the lentils, and the large one for the pasta.

For the small potHeat the water up to boiling. Once that water is boiling, turn down to heat to medium, and add in the lentils. Cook for 15- 20 minutes until al dente. Drain the water and set aside.

For the large pot: Heat the water up to boiling. Add in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Once the water is boiling, add in the pasta and stir. Turn down the heat to medium high and let the pasta cook 10-12 minutes, or until al dente.

Strain the water out and put the pasta in a large bowl, and toss with a 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil.

In a medium pot, add the tomatoes, garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, brown sugar, and fresh basil.  Lightly crush the tomatoes with a spoon, and heat on medium high for 5 minutes.

Serve the pasta in large bowls, layer on top the lentils, pasta sauce, parmesan cheese, and fresh basil and enjoy!

Let me know what you think in the comments below, and happy cooking!

xoxo-Julie

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