Lentil and tomato stew

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I forgot that the Super Bowl is this weekend. If I’d remembered, I might have found a dip to share with you. Actually, I have a recipe for a caramelized onion dip that I’ve been wanting to try, and a Super Bowl party would have been the perfect reason to make it. It’s too late for that, though– I’m actively searching for ways to avoid hearing/watching Ben watch the game. But now I’m thinking about the dip, and now I want it, so I might make it anyway for my own not-Super Bowl party (aka me binge-watching Friends on Friday night.)

Instead of appetizers, snacks, dips, chilis and foods involving hot dogs and barbecue sauce, I’ve been focusing on the things that will get us to springtime: Foods that have some vegetables, dishes that ooze with gooey, lightly browning cheese. Dinners that you can make on a weeknight and some sweets for you to leisurely whip up on Sunday afternoon. I’m especially trying to take advantage of the citrus that’s in season– all of the oranges I’ve tasted this year have been particularly juicier and sweeter than I’ve ever noticed. (Don’t worry, at least one citrus recipe will be coming soon, and you will absolutely love it.)

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This lentil and tomato stew is the opposite of anything citrusy, but it’s a perfect weeknight dinner for you to have next week. Hearty, warm, flavorful, made from pantry items and relatively quick to prepare, it’s a welcome sight when you’re cold and hungry. The stew is very thick– it’s definitely a stew and not a soup, so if you’re like me and always wish there were less liquid in soup, you’ll appreciate that the only liquid in the final product is a fragrant tomato sauce.

It tastes just as good leftover as it does eaten right after preparation, so it’s a good meal to make ahead for lunch during the week. If you’re going to be avoiding the game on Sunday night like me, you can make it then and not worry about what to pack in your lunch for most of the week. And if you are planning to watch the game, it’s certainly healthier than leftover wings or cold pizza that you might have (or at least a healthy meal to make up for the indulgences).

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Lentil and tomato stew
adapted from The New York Times
makes 4 servings
four-stars

Note: The Parmesan rind in the bouquet garni does add a bit more flavor to the lentils, but it really is optional. I’ve made it both ways, and honestly, I didn’t notice any difference. I happened to have a Parmesan rind when I made it once, so I used it, but don’t go out of your way for it.

 

1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs parsley
Parmesan rind (optional)
2 cups brown or green lentils, rinsed
1 ½ cups water
1 onion, cut in half
4 garlic cloves, minced
kosher salt
extra virgin olive oil
1 box of Pomi finely chopped tomatoes OR 2- 14.5 ounce cans of chopped tomatoes
⅔ cup tomato sauce
¼ teaspoon sugar
ground pepper
1 or 2 basil sprigs plus 6 to 10 basil leaves, slivered
Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving

 

1. Bundle together the bay leaf, thyme, parsley and optional Parmesan and wrap in square of cheesecloth. (This is called a bouquet garni.)

2. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, combine lentils, water, onion (yes, it is not diced just halved), half of the garlic, and the bouquet garni. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and season with a pinch of kosher salt. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 25 minutes, until the lentils are cooked but not at all mushy. Use tongs to remove the onion and bouquet garni.

Meanwhile, prepare the tomato sauce that you’ll add to the lentils.

3. In a medium-sized saucepan or high-sided skillet, heat two glugs of oil over medium heat. Once shimmering, add the other half of garlic; once fragrant (after about 30 seconds), add chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar and two pinches of kosher salt. Stir together, and then add basil sprigs.

4. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a strong simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have cooked into a thick sauce, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove the basil sprigs.

5. Add the tomato sauce to the lentils, stir to combine, and cover and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and then stir in slivered basil. Serve with grated Parmesan and crusty bread.

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