Good food for cold nights. January 15, 2012Posted by ourfriendben in recipes.
Tags: cornbread, cornbread recipe, hearty meatless meals, hot food for cold nights, inexpensive meatless meals, lentil stew, lentil stew recipe, the best cornbread, vegetarian stew, winter foods, winter recipes
Baby, it’s cold outside!
Silence Dogood here. Cold weather makes me crave a hearty, warming lentil stew. It’s a popular choice with our Friday Night Supper Club, too, especially served with hot-from-the-oven cornbread and a big, crunchy salad. You can serve it as is, topped with shredded Swiss cheese, or spoon it up over pasta or rice. It makes a flavorful, satisfying, and inexpensive meatless meal. And, like meatless chili, refried beans, and black bean soup, it keeps beautifully in the fridge, so you can serve it for dinner, then store the rest for lunch or dinner later in the week.
Let me say a word about the spicing and flavorings that I put in this lentil stew. Some of them may strike you as odd or even downright bizarre. Trust me here: You’ll be very pleasantly surprised! I should also point out that your spicing options are very broad with a lentil stew (or any dried legume dish). You should feel free to experiment and to use what you have! My lentil stew is different every time I make it, and it’s always good. Go for it!
Here’s the recipe:
Silence’s Luverly Lentil Stew
extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, diced
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups dried green lentils or more to taste
4 large carrots, sliced, slices quartered
9 new potatoes, sliced, slices quartered
large box vegetable stock (any brand)
half a large bottle tomato juice or more to taste
hot sauce (we like Pickapeppa)
Trocamare, Herbamare, or salt (we like Real Salt)
whole cumin seeds
whole black mustardseeds
handful of raisins (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 jar mango chutney (I happened to have an almost-empty jar of mango chutney in the fridge last night; otherwise, I might have opted for orange marmalade, ginger preserves, or even apple jelly)
shredded Swiss cheese for topping
Pour a generous amount of olive oil in the bottom af a large, heavy stock pot or Dutch oven. (I love my enamelled cast-iron LeCreuset Dutch ovens, and used my largest one for this.) Saute the onion, garlic, spices, and hot sauce in the olive oil until the onion clarifies, adding a little veggie stock if needed to prevent sticking. Lentils can take a lot of spicing and I use a very generous hand with my spices—say, a tablespoon each. Add the raisins and chutney (or marmalade or whatever). The purpose of these is to add depth and richness to the stew’s flavor, and trust me, it works. Nobody will turn to you at the table and scream “There’s jelly in here!”
Rinse the lentils and add them to the pot, stirring well to mix. These are called green lentils, but they’re actually just the ordinary brownish-olive drab lentils you can buy bagged in any grocery store or in bulk at any health food store, co-op, or the like. You don’t want to use any of the small, delicate lentils in this stew! Go for the plain old everyday variety, which will hold up well to the other ingredients.
Now, add the veggie stock and tomato juice, and then fold in the carrots and potatoes. Let the stew cook for an hour or so on low to moderate heat until almost all the liquid is absorbed and the lentils, potatoes, and carrots are cooked through. You can actually make this earlier in the day and keep it perking away on the stove until supper, but if you do, keep it on low heat and add more veggie stock and/or tomato juice as needed to make sure it doesn’t completely dry out. You want a rich, thick stew, not soup, but you don’t want a dried-out, burnt-on mess! So keep an eye on it.
Serves 8 to 10 (or maybe 6 if everybody keeps going back for more).
Try it, you really will like it. Promise! And now, about that cornbread…
Silence’s Best Cornbread
1 1/2 cups white cornmeal
3 tablespoons unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons salted butter
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Melt the butter in an 8- or 9-inch round ovenproof glass pan (such as a Pyrex cake or pie pan), swirling the melted butter around in the pan to coat the sides. Combine the cornmeal, flour, and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Add the milk, egg, sour cream and melted butter to the dry ingredients, and mix thoroughly. Pour the batter into the hot pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. To serve, cut in pie wedges, split and butter the wedges, and serve very hot.
Oh, yum! With a pot of lentil stew and a pan of hot cornbread (and maybe some luscious baked apples for dessert), it’s a lot easier to forget those icy winds and the frost on the windows.
‘Til next time,