Vegan Lentil and Red Pepper Pasta Sauce.
This is a vegan family recipe that can be easily adapted to feed all members of the family.
Below you will find more information about including lentil dishes when you wean your baby, but if you just want to try the dish yourself (which I urge you to do!), simply hit the button above to jump straight to the recipe.
Can babies eat lentils?
The answer is yes, absolutely. As soon as they are ready to start eating solids, you can introduce them to well-cooked lentils.
As with all new foods that you introduce, I would strongly recommend that you do so slowly, giving them just small tastes at first.
How do I feed my baby lentils?
Very early on in the weaning process, you can try them on red lentils that have been cooked on their own until very soft. Once they are weaned onto a wider range of foods, you can introduce different lentils and stronger flavours like those in my Lentil, Mushroom and Potato Pie
How do I cook red lentils for a baby?
- Use organic if you can, but they are all highly nutritious regardless
- Wash the lentils thoroughly in a sieve until the water runs clear. There is no need to soak red lentils beforehand, but the rinsing process is important to remove impurities
- Place the lentils in a saucepan and add cold water. I use a ratio of 100g lentils to 300 ml of water, so a 1:3 ratio. You can always add more boiling water during the cooking process if needed
- If the water goes very cloudy, you need to rinse them a bit more before cooking
- Do not add salt
- Bring to a rapid, rolling boil for a minute, skimming off any foam
- Reduce the heat and simmer gently for up to 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils are very soft and lose their shape. You are looking for a thick, sauce-like texture
- Stir regularly whilst cooking because they can stick to the pan spectacularly as the water is soaked up!
- Drain and stir a spoonful into a small bowl, mashing the lentils up with a fork. You can add a little plant-based milk, butter or yoghurt if you like
- If you are not using the remaining cooked lentils for anything else, they can be frozen (plain) in small portions. Defrost thoroughly before re-heating
Are lentils healthy for babies?
Lentils are a valuable source of important vitamins and minerals, and should become a regular ingredient in a vegan’s diet – adult and baby alike.
You can start to introduce other types of lentils into your baby’s diet as they get used to them, but red lentils are by far the easiest to start with.
See BBC Good Food’s summary of the health benefits of lentils.
Are lentils a complete protein?
Now you’re opening a can of worms, well, a can of amino acids actually.
There is a lot of talk about lentils not being a ‘complete’ protein which can make them seem like an inferior source.
Don’t be fooled. They provide a high number of amino acids which are important building blocks for that elusive ‘complete’ protein.
All that is recommended is that during the same day, you eat something like rice, pasta, nuts or soy that will fill in the amino acid ‘gaps’. So, lentil sauce with pasta or rice is a perfect combo!
Lentil Weaning Recipes
The Red Pepper and Lentil Sauce below is such a versatile dish because it can serve as a family meal, yet be adapted for all family members.
If you want to keep some of the cooked lentils plain to feed a baby at the start of their weaning journey, you can just boil the lentils separately and bring everything together at the end for the rest of the family.
However, you can start to add in more flavourful ingredients to your baby’s diet as you progress with weaning. Just avoid things like salt, and go very easy on the chillies!
There are many recipes available for weaning vegan babies. Apart from my recipe here, you could try this lentil recipe from the NHS for weaning babies as well.
Red Pepper and Lentil Sauce for Pasta
- 1 Medium saucepan
- Knife, chopping board
- Hand held or worktop blender/food processor Optional
- 1 tbsp Rapeseed or Olive Oil
- 1 large Red onion Roughly chopped
- 1 large Red Pepper De-seeded and roughly chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic - crushed Can be omitted for baby version
- 1 Red Chilli - de-seeded if preferred Roughly chopped. Omit for baby version
- 250 grams Dried Red Lentils Rinsed under tap until water runs clear
- 1 400g Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
- 1 tbsp Tomato Puree
- 1 Bayleaf
- 15 grams Fresh Parsley - finely chopped To serve
- Nutritional Yeast To serve
- Heat the oil in the saucepan over a medium heat
- Add the onions, stir and sauté gently for a couple of minutes
- As the onions start to soften, add the red pepper (and garlic and chilli if using)
- Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking (add a few drops of water if it sticks and make sure you don't have the heat up too high)
- The vegetables should be soft and just starting to take on a bit of colour
- Add the lentils and stir for a minute or two to cover them in the oil, then add the tin of tomatoes
- Fill the empty tin with cold water and add to the pan also
- Stir in the tomato puree and add the bay leaf
- Bring to the boil, skim off any foam, then reduce the heat to a good simmer
- Simmer for about 20 minutes, adding a little extra water if required
- After this time, the lentils should be soft and losing their shape. You are looking for a thick, pasta sauce consistency.
- At this point, you can add seasoning to taste. If you are going to process or puree it, remove the bay leaf before doing so
- If you are serving this with pasta, loosen the sauce with a tablespoon of the pasta cooking water first, then spoon the sauce over your cooked pasta
- Sprinkle with parsley and add nutritional yeast to taste