Meat Too Expensive? Make a Tangy Lentil Stew
Lentil stew can be a great and filling meal. Some lentil stews are fiery hot, but this lentil stew is mild, savory, and tangy. The stew also is high in protein, fiber, and vitamins and low in fat. Plenty of vegetables meld their flavors with paprika, cumin, and cardamom to give the stew depth, and tomato paste adds richness to the stew without the need for meat. Although I use chicken broth in my stew, you can substitute vegetable broth if you'd prefer a veggie-only version of the stew. I also cook my lentils first before adding them to the stew, but, if you'd prefer, you can use canned lentils. The stew makes a substantial meal paired with a salad and rice or fresh bread. Plus, the stew is incredibly inexpensive to make and furnishes great leftovers for lunches later in the week. Oh, and if you want heat, feel free to add some cayenne or hot sauce--just taste the stew first, as it's delicious "as is."
Tangy Lentil Stew -- Serves 4+
2 teaspoons of canola oil
1/2 a large onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/4 cup of chopped red or yellow bell pepper (or a combination)
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
2 tablespoons of sweet paprika
2 tablespoons of dried cilantro flakes
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of cardamom
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 cup of chicken broth (or reduced sodium chicken "Better Than Bullion"
1-2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
3 cups of cooked lentils (brown) (or 2 cans)
In a soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper and saute them for 5-8 minutes until they've softened a little. Sprinkle on the garlic powder, paprika, cilantro, cumin, cardamom, and salt and saute everything for a minute or two. Add the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, red wine vinegar, bay leaf, and sugar and stir to combine the ingredients of your stew. Turn down the heat and let the mixture simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, then stir in the lentils. Bring the mixture back to a simmer and let it cook for another 10 minutes or so to meld the flavors. Taste the stew and add a touch more salt, if necessary. Fish out the bay leaves and serve the stew ladled into bowls over rice or with bread on the side.