As a vegetarian flirting with vegan (okay, a pescatarian, but that sounds like a religion) I find it difficult to get enough protein and iron in my diet. I like lentils and love my mom’s lentil soup recipe, but sometimes soup doesn’t seem exciting or substantive enough for dinner. And something about having wine with soup seems wrong.
So, I wanted to share a super easy-to-make lentil stew served over parmesan polenta (also surprisingly simple to make from scratch). Apologies in advance for the lack of exact measurements but it’s a combo of a few people’s recipes so I was kind of making it up as I went along.
It’s really hard to mess up, I promise. The “worst” thing you can do is under or over cool the lentils. If undercooked just heat it up for a bit longer. Over cooked? You and your guests won’t care after the first glass of wine (or just puree the damn thing and garnish it!). And it freezes well, like a chili!
SERVES: 2-3 people (large portions)
TIME: 1 hour (1 hour for stew and 10-20 minutes for polenta)
- Place 1/2 lb of dry lentils (the dark kind) in a large pot with a bay leaf, put enough water to submerge all the lentils and bring water to a simmer
- While lentils are cooking, put a few tablespoons of olive oil into a frying pan on low and saute garlic and onions (I like garlic so I put about 4 cloves and 1/2 small onion chopped finely)
- After the onion is transparent (translucent?) add finely chopped celery and carrots (approximately 1/2 c of each)
- Dump the yummy sautéed veges into the cooking lentils
- Open a large can of peeled tomatoes (plain ones without any sugar or seasonings), crush the tomatoes with your hands and dump in with all the liquid into the pot with the lentils – – you can start with less of the juice if you want to make it thicker
- Bring everything to a boil and then bring to a simmer for about an hour until the lentils are tender
- If stew is too thick, add some vegetable broth or water
- Towards the end you can add some white or red wine (~ 1/2 c)
- You can also add chopped or hand torn fresh escarole at the very end for a few minutes so it wilts OR saute spinach in olive oil and add to the stew at the end
- Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
If you do prefer soups, just add more liquid and voila!
POLENTA: You can use the ready made kind, but I had regular corn meal at home so used that. You can buy fancier polenta which I think will be more coarse and rustic
- Mix 1 cup polenta with 4 cups cold water, bring to boil while stirring and then turn down to simmer.
- Keep stirring on a very low simmer for about 10-20 minutes (the coarser polenta probably takes longer, will say on the package)
- Add butter (a few tablespoons) and parmesan (about 1/2 up grated) and stir so it melts*
- Salt and black pepper to taste
*To make dish vegan skip the cheese and replace butter with Earth Balance
Pour stew over polenta, pour wine into glass and DINNER IS SERVED!