Serves 8; can be multiplied. Omit the cheese for vegan; use rice pasta for gluten-free.
1 13-oz box whole wheat penne (or other whole wheat pasta, or any dried pasta)
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry red lentils
2 cups canned chopped tomato (I like Pomi)
1-1/2 tsp Greek seasoning
2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or thyme leaves, or a mix
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, or more to taste
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, as needed
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)
Add 6 quarts of water to a stock pot, and bring it to a boil on the stove. Stir in the pasta, and cook according to package directions. When the pasta is cooked, drain (do not rinse), and set aside.
At the same time, begin the sauce.
In a large, nonstick sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion and zucchini for 2 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Then, add the garlic, and cook for 30 seconds.
Dump in the lentils along with 3 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover, and cook for 10-12 minutes, until the lentils have softened slightly. If the lentils are sticking, add a small amount of water, 1/4 cup or so.
Stir in the tomato, Greek seasoning, herbs, lemon zest and olives. continue to simmer, covered, for 5-10 minutes, until the lentils are completely cooked but have not begun to fall apart. Add the feta, and continue cooking for a minute or two to warm the cheese. Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed.
(At this point, you can refrigerate the sauce and pasta separately if making in advance.)
Combine the pasta and sauce, and top with parmesan cheese.