Yield: Serves 6 generously
1/2 pound brown or green lentils, washed and picked over
2 onions, one cut in half, the other finely chopped divided use
4 large garlic cloves, 2 cut in half, 2 minced divided use
1 bay leaf
Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, cut in small dice
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly toasted and ground
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground
Pinch of cayenne, or 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
Freshly ground pepper
12 ounces spaghetti, tagliatelle, or fettucine
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Place the lentils in a heavy saucepan with the halved onion, the halved garlic cloves, and the bay leaf.
Add enough water to cover by 1 1/2 inches, and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 25 minutes.
Add salt to taste (under-salt slightly because you will be reducing the liquid) and continue to simmer for another 10 to 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender but intact.
Remove from the heat.
Place a strainer over a bowl and drain the lentils.
Begin heating a large pot of generously salted water for the pasta.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the chopped onion.
Cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes, and add the red pepper.
Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender and the onion is beginning to color, another 5 to 8 minutes, and add 1/2 teaspoon salt, the garlic, coriander, cumin, and cayenne or Aleppo pepper.
Continue to cook, stirring, for a minute, until the garlic is fragrant, and stir in the broth from the lentils.
Bring to a boil and reduce slightly, then stir in the lentils.
Add pepper, taste and adjust salt.
Keep warm while you cook the pasta.
When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta and cook al dente, until firm to the bite, following the timing instructions on the package but checking a few minutes before the end of the suggested cooking time.
Drain and toss with the lentils.
Add the cilantro, and serve.