Red Lentil Penne with Lemon Garlic Asparagus

Red Lentil Penne with Lemon Garlic Asparagus

This fast and fresh Red Lentil Penne with Lemon Garlic Asparagus recipe has it all. Tangy lemon, savory garlic, fresh asparagus, and pasta in a rich buttery sauce (with cultured vegan butter) make this plant-based meal a hit. Because prep and boiling/preheat time are simultaneous, it’s on the table in about 30 minutes, and perfect for busy weeknights. More than 17 grams of protein per serving will keep you satisfied and at under 300 calories, it’s a family favorite.

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Red Lentil Penne with Lemon Garlic Asparagus

Red Lentil Penne with Lemon Garlic Asparagus

Red Lentil Penne with Lemon Garlic Asparagus

  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


  • 1 box red lentil penne (we used Barilla, 8.8 oz)* 
  • 1 pound fresh asparagus (1 bunch), preferably thin spears
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced 
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tbsp Miyoko’s European style cultured vegan butter
  • 1/2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt, plus extra for boiling the pasta
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper 
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • Optional: Vegan Parmesan for serving


Order of operations is important in this recipe to ensure that everything comes together quickly. We recommend glancing over the steps before beginning.

Getting Started

  1. Set a large pot of water (8+ cups) with a generous pinch of salt on a high burner to bring to a boil. Place oven rack at top position and set oven to 425 degrees F. 
  2. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil, grease with 1/2 tsp olive oil, and set aside.

For the Prep

  1. While water is boiling, zest one lemon and set zest aside. Juice the zested lemon and half of the second lemon into a small measuring cup or mug, then slice the remaining lemon half into wedges and set aside. 
  2. Combine salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Measure the almond milk and mince the garlic and set aside.
  3. Rinse the asparagus thoroughly and snap off the woody ends. If you bend the lower portion of the stalk gently, it will snap off at just the right spot. Cut on a diagonal into bite-sized pieces, about 1″ long and place pieces in a large bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice to the bowl and toss gently. Sprinkle with half of the spice mixture, toss again to coat evenly, then transfer onto the prepared baking sheet and arrange in a single layer.

Putting it Together

  1. Add the pasta to the boiling water and stir immediately (and as needed, every few minutes). Place the asparagus pan on the top rack in the oven and set timer for 7 minutes. After 7 minutes, remove asparagus pan from the oven and set aside (turn oven off). Continue cooking pasta for 2 more minutes (set the timer, total cook time is 9 minutes for this brand/type of pasta). Once finished, drain pasta in a colander in the sink and rinse with cool water. Toss to shake off any excess water and let sit.
  2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat then add Miyoko’s vegan butter. Once melted, add the garlic and cook until fragrant (1-2 minutes) stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and quickly add the almond milk, remaining spice mixture, and pasta to the pan. Toss immediately to coat and cover for 2 minutes. Toss again, then cover for another minute.
  3. Add the lemon zest and juice, toss to coat evenly, and add the asparagus. Cover the pan once more, remove from heat and let sit another 2-3 minutes. The asparagus will warm through without overcooking and the pasta will absorb most of the flavorful liquid. 
  4. Divide between four large bowls and serve immediately with lemon wedges and vegan parmesan, if desired. 


Refrigerate leftovers in a glass airtight container up to 4 days. Best reheated gently in a covered pan over medium-low heat with a splash of water.

* Boiling time may vary depending on type of pasta used. Cooking time in this recipe is for one 8.8 oz box of Barilla Red Lentil Penne.

Nutrition Estimate Per Serving (1 SERVING = 1/4 RECIPE) – Calories: 288.5, Fat: 7.6g, Saturated Fat: 4.1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: .2g, Monounsaturated Fat: .6g, Cholesterol: .1mg, Sodium: 68.5g, Potassium: 856.3mg, Carbohydrates: 45g total/35.8g net, Fiber: 9.2g, Sugar: 3.8g, Protein: 17.2g, Vitamin A: 18.5%, Vitamin C: 10.5%, Calcium: 26.3%, Iron: 17.4% (based on 2,000 calorie diet). Nutrition calculated with one 8.8 oz box Barilla Red Lentil Penne and Miyoko’s European style cultured vegan butter.

  • Author: Fresh. Out.
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Oven Roasting, Stove Top
  • Diet: Vegan



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