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Meatless Challenge: Lentil Stew

Posted Jan 12 2010 12:00am

I’m not a vegetarian but I’ve made vegetarian dishes before, some of them are actually posted on this blog. And if you’re a vegetarian and the rest of the family is not, then that’s a real challenge for both parties. Penny (@ Jeroxie) invited me to join in her weekly meatless challenge as she believes that I have a lot of good ideas. Thanks Penny. Thinking about it, I was actually thinking of what to make...

Some of us think that in order to get enough protein in your diet, you need to eat animal protein in every dish. That is not so true. Actually, if you really look at what we eat, we eat way too much animal protein. It’s actually okay to skip some meat, poultry, fish, eggs and even dairy. Don’t be afraid if you’re not eating them on a daily basis.

When it comes to creating vegetarian dishes, quality is also my number one priority. I could have become a vegetarian out of curiosity but I cook for other people here at home who may not survive on a vegetarian diet. And cooking too many dishes (both for vegan and carnivore eaters) is also taxing and expensive. Just so you know, a vegetarian diet is not for everyone. After browsing through the book Eat Right for Your Type by Dr. Peter D'Adamo, I just found out that my ideal diet is vegetarian (Blood Type A). Hmm?? Some people do well, some people don’t. Like I’ve said before, it’s all about balance, moderation and flexibility but trying to go vegetarian for a few months could be challenging but at the same time fun. You’ll discover foods out of your comfort zone. Remember, this only applies to whole and real foods, not processed and refined foods.

I always love lentils particularly puy de lentils because of its earthy and meaty flavor. I combine it with some red lentils for extra creaminess. This dish is an inspiration from another recipe that I saw but I can’t seem to remember which one is it. This stew can actually be a soup if you add more stock but I love the thickness and the texture of the lentils just the way it is. And lentils won’t be the same without tomatoes. Instead of canned tomatoes, I added some peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes for that umami-rich taste.

I also added some white wine for extra body and a generous garnish of cherry tomatoes and Chinese broccoli. I blanched the cherry tomatoes to remove the skin so the person eating it doesn’t have to remove them. But it’s an optional step. After removing the skin of the tomatoes, I sauté them with garlic and chili pepper flakes along with the Chinese broccoli before adding to the soup. When the lentils are already tender, I turn off the heat but I still allow the lentils to sit into the liquid for a thicker and creamier stew.

Lentil Stew

1 cup puy de lentils
½ cup red lentils

2 large tomatoes

1 large onion
1 medium carrot
½ leek
½ stalk celery
3 cloves garlic

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
unrefined sea salt
1 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable stock

4 tbsp extra light olive oil
4 cloves garlic
red chili pepper flakes, to taste
10 ounces cherry tomatoes (about 300 grams)
7 ounces Chinese broccoli (about 200 grams)
unrefined sea salt
fresh crack black pepper

Soak the puy de lentils with 2 tsp of yogurt, buttermilk, kefir or whey in 4 cups of water for 6-8 hours. Drain and rinse well. Rinse the red lentils and drain well. Set aside.

To prepare the tomatoes, bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice bath. Remove the core from the tomatoes and make an “X” pattern at the bottom. When the water is boiling, lower the tomatoes and blanch for 10 seconds to loosen the skin. Then with a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes into an ice bath.

To prepare your mise en place, finely chop the onion, carrot, leek, celery and garlic. The peel, de-seed and finely chop the tomatoes.

Heat a large stock pot over low-medium heat. Add the olive oil followed by the onions and sea salt. Cook the onions until soft and translucent. Then add the carrots and celery, and season with more salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, and then add the leeks and cook for another 3 minutes. Finally, add the garlic, and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for about 3 minutes to extract the liquid. Add the white wine and the lentils. Let the wine reduce by half for about 5 minutes, and add the vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and lower the heat. Cover slightly and cook for about 30-45 minutes until the lentils are tender.

While the lentils are cooking, prepare the garnish.

To prepare the garnish, bring a pot of water, the same pot used in blanching the tomatoes earlier. Remove the tiny stems of the cherry tomatoes and refresh the ice bath. Peel and emince the garlic and gather the chili pepper flakes.

When the water is boiling, add the cherry tomatoes and blanch for 5-8 seconds to loosen the skin. Then with a slotted spoon, transfer the cherry tomatoes in an ice bath to cool down. Once cooled, transfer the cherry tomatoes onto a plate. Next, blanch the Chinese broccoli for about 10 seconds and transfer into an ice bath. When cooled down, remove and gently squeeze the excess water.

Remove the skin from the cherry tomatoes and cut the Chinese broccoli into 2 inch pieces but smaller pieces for the stem.

To cook the garnish, heat oil, garlic and the red chili pepper flakes in a large sauté pan over medium high heat and cook for about 1 minute without burning. Add the cherry tomatoes and the Chinese broccoli and cook until the vegetables are hot and coated with the oil. You can also smash some of the tomatoes and leave the other whole. Remove the pan from the heat.

To serve the soup, season with salt and pepper if necessary. Add more water if mixture is too thick. Ladle onto individual soup bowls and scoop a generous amount of the garnish.

Serve hot and enjoy.


Gluten-Free (Generally all wine is gluten free but always check) ; Dairy-Free; Vegan

To learn more about legumes, check out Rouxbe Online Cooking School on How to Cook Dried Legumes. You'll never cook your legumes the same way again.

Love and light,

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