EASY PANTRY MEALS: Red Lentil Dahl + One Pot Pasta

May 4th, 2020


I am sharing some easy dinner inspiration this week. Although we have enjoyed a few click-and-collect meals recently to support local food businesses, there is still a lot of home cooking going on.

Here are two simple pantry meals that can be cooked in a flash.

*Psst, Mother’s Day orders for my Homegrown Kitchen cookbook need to be placed by Wednesday for books to arrive in time for the weekend (allowing for possible delays with the courier/postal service at this time).

Comforting Red Lentil Dahl

Dahl is a firm family favourite around here. I make quite a few different variations, sometimes with coconut milk added, others that are more tomato-based. This one is somewhere in-between. It isn't too complex, with spices you will likely have on hand. If not, 2 rounded teaspoons of mild curry powder can be used in place of the ground spices. I will often double this recipe so I can freeze half for a quick lunch or dinner another day. 
Servings 4 + leftovers
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes


  • cups 300g split red lentils
  • 400 g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon chilli flakes - optional
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil or ghee
  • 1 large brown onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds

To serve:

  • chopped coriander
  • unsweetened natural yoghurt
  • about 2 cups cooked basmati rice


  • Rinse the red lentils and place in a large saucepan with the tomatoes, water and spices (not the salt at this stage, or it can toughen the lentils). Bring to a simmer and cook until the lentils are soft when squashed, about 20 minutes. If the mixture looks like it is drying out, add a little extra boiling water to loosen.
  • Once the lentils are soft, remove from the heat, add the salt and use a stick blender to roughly puree. This is optional, but will give the dhal a creamy and comforting texture.
  • While the lentils are cooking, heat the oil or ghee in a frying pan over a moderate heat. Add the onions and gently sauté for 10 minutes until golden. Add the garlic and mustard seeds and cook for a further 5 minutes, until fragrant. Stir this through the dahl, check taste adding extra salt if needed. Serve with basmati rice, coriander and yoghurt.

One-Pot Pasta

This is one of those speedy pantry meals that takes little effort and, with one pot, the clean up is easy .You can double the recipe to have enough for lunch the next day, or bulk out the meal with "cheat's meatballs". These are my son's specialty and basically involve squeezing our the contents of quality sausages, rolling into meatballs then cooking in a frying pan until browned.
Servings 4
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • about 400g seasonal vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces - I used the last marrow from the garden; broccoli or kale can also be used
  • 400 g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups hot vegetable stock or boiling water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 250 g fusilli (spiral) pasta
  • cracked pepper
  • handful basil leaves - I still have several small plants growing in the glasshouse - or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • grated parmesan cheese to serve


  • Heat the olive oil in a large wide-based saucepan. Add the chopped onion and sauté for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and vegetables and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, hot stock or water, salt and pasta. At this stage, the pasta should be covered by the liquid. Slightly cover with a lid and cook over a medium heat, stirring every 2-3 minutes to check the pasta isn't sticking.
  • As soon as the pasta is al-dente, about 10 minutes, remove from the heat. Stir through the basil or oregano, cover with a lid and leave to steam for 5-10 minutes while setting the table. Serve with grated parmesan and extra olive oil for drizzling at the table.

Join the Conversation

  1. Hi Nicola,

    I know quite a few people who have allergies or intolerance to the nightshade family including tomatoes, potatoes, capsicums, and peppers. It is quite hard to find recipes without one or more of these ingredients. Do you know of a satisfactory alternative to using tomatoes in recipes? Do you have any nightshade free recipes?

    Thanks Jenny

    1. Hi Jenny
      You can make the dahl with coconut cream or milk in place of the tomatoes (I often do this and makes lovely creamy dahl) but the pasta recipe needs the tomatoes to make the sauce. Have a look through my Dinner recipe archive (click through the pages as it goes back to 2012) and you will find some dinner recipes without nightshades: https://www.homegrown-kitchen.co.nz/category/dinner/

  2. Sarah Williams says:

    thanks for this. Such a great idea to just use one pot instead of doing the pasta and sauce separately. Doh!

    1. Hi Sarah, it is not an original idea but I do like this technique when I am short on time and want a quick clean up!
      Enjoy, Nicola

  3. Hi Nicola – love your book – make your sourdough loaf weekly – and my go to dessert is your free form galette 😋. I also frequently make your lacto- fermented beetroot. My question is you recommend roasting the beetroot, which I did once, but I have otherwise boiled the beetroot and found it fermented better (though still not a lot). Is there any benefit in roasting rather than boiling?

    1. Hi Kathryn, thanks for the lovely message about my book. In regards to the lacto-fermented beet there is no difference really if you roast or boil the beetroot. I just find roasting easier as I will throw in a dish of while beets while I am baking bread to make the most of the oven heat. If you want more fermentation then you will need to add more whey (1-2 tbsp) as this is where the lactic bacteria are coming from to ferment the cooked beets.
      All the best and happy fermenting 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Nicola Galloway Homegrown Kitchen © Copyright 2023. All rights reserved.