Wednesday Dinner: Lentil Stew

The Wife and I hit our breaking point with the dining hall during our sophomore year at St. Bonaventure University. In lieu of heading there for the evening awful each night, we switched over to a Progresso soup diet. Dinners were prepared expertly in my contraband microwave — our floor didn’t have one because they turned the lounge into a quad — and served in fine flatware smuggled from said dining hall. Thanks to Progresso minestrone, escarole, pasta and beans, and lentil soups, we missed out on whatever was terrible that night. We also ingested a lot of sodium. Anyhow, the lentil soup is still first rate as far as canned soups go.

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Lentils are awesome to cook with because they are so nutritious — very high in fiber, protein, folates, riboflavin, iron and other good stuff — and are one of those foods that thickens the liquid in which it is cooked, eliminating the need for extra starch.

For this stew, I went with red lentils. They are sweeter and, well, that’s what I grabbed at Trader Joe’s. I usually buy Goya brown lentils when making soups but thought that this might add a little unexpected color to the dinner.

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WHAT WORKED: Za’atar. I picked up a jar of it from Penzey’s Spices and it provided a flavor complexity to the stew beyond the vegetables.

WHAT DIDN’T: Thursday was supposed to be the final day of our meatless week, but this happened. So, five dinners became four and this was the capper. 

EASE OF PREPARATION: Easy.

BEST FOR: Dinner any day of the week, or a hearty stew on a cold day.

SERVE WITH: Warm naan brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with za’atar. 

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Lentil Stew
Inspired by the Gluten Free Vegan Girl

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped zucchini
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups dry red lentils
  • 1 can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 tsp. za’atar

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In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring the olive oil to a shimmer. Add the onion, carrot, celery, zucchini and garlic and toss to coat in the oil. Sprinkle the veggies with salt and cook until the onions soften and turn translucent, stirring frequently, 5 to 7 minutes.

2014-12-17 at 17-52-05Pour in the lentils and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes and stock, and sprinkle the za’atar over the top. Increase heat to high and stir to combine. Bring to a boil around the edges, then reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook at least 30 t0 40 minutes, or up to 2 hours. The longer you cook, the thicker the stew. 

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Serve hot.

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