Spiced Red Lentil Stew with Spinach and Lemon

There are ingredients I always have on hand for cooking, like canned cannellini and kidney beans, coconut milk, chickpeas and tomatoes. Lemons, garlic, and eggs. Pancetta, peas and Parmesan rinds are always in the freezer. And pasta, rice and lentils. Always!

It’s great to have a pantry because there are so many dishes I can whip up without doing extra shopping. When there’s a recipe I want to try, it’s likely I have a bunch of the ingredients standing by.

I was all ready to make this Spiced Red Lentil Stew. I had tomatoes and garlic because I always have tomatoes and garlic. All the spices necessary were spices I have. And there were red lentils because there are red lentils here all the time. I’d shopped for the spinach so it would be fresh. Away we go!

I was assembling all the ingredients and found that there were no red lentils. Did I panic? Tremble with rage at my mistake? Weep with disappointment?

No. I found I had brown lentils and continued. Well-stocked pantry for the win.

This is how it went.

Got the lentils.

Lentils. Not red.

Lentils. Not red.

Cumin, ground coriander, curry powder, turmeric and dried red chili (substituting for peperoncino).

Spices.

Spices.

Garlic cloves.

Garlic.

Garlic.

Garlic and spices go into a frying pan with oil.

Garlic, red pepper and spices into a frying pan.

Garlic, red pepper and spices into a frying pan.

Lightly browned.

Garlic, red pepper and spices, after a minute.

Garlic, red pepper and spices, after a minute.

Measure the tomatoes.

Tomatoes.

Tomatoes.

Tomatoes, lentils and stock are added.

Tomatoes, lentils and stock are added.

Tomatoes, lentils and stock are added.

Time to stir.

Time for a stir, about 15 minutes into the cooking.

Time for a stir, about 15 minutes into the cooking.

Steaming the spinach.

Spinach.

Spinach.

Spiced Red Lentil Stew with Spinach and Lemon

Spiced Red Lentil Stew with Spinach and Lemon.

Spiced Red Lentil Stew with Spinach and Lemon.

Possibly because brown lentils were substituted for red lentils, this took closer to 35 minutes to finish cooking. It was very tasty.

From Dinner Chez Moi by Laura Calder, 2011.

Spiced Red Lentil Stew with Spinach and Lemon
Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 peperoncino, crushed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon curry powder
pinch turmeric
1 cup red lentils
1 tin (14 ounces) diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt and pepper
8 ounces large spinach, stems trimmed
lemon wedges, for serving

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, peperoncino and spices, stirring until the garlic is lightly brown, about a minute. Add the lentils, tomatoes and stock. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils turn to purée, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Wash the spinach and put it in a large pot with the water still clinging to the leaves. Cover and steam over medium-high heat, turning once or twice with tongs to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Serve the thick lentil stew in warmed shallow bowls with spinach on top. Pass lemon wedges for squeezing over.

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