Season To Taste, Guest Blogger Erin! – lentil vegetable stew

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Lentil Vegetable Rice Stew!

Guest Blogger Alert!  I am so happy to have Erin sharing a family recipe with us today.  Erin is a very similar cook as me, in other words, she throws everything in the pot, bowl, pan whatever and away she goes!  So had to pin her down to write a recipe out for you.  This lentil vegetable stew will be perfect for a damp rainy spring night!  Erin has a few more recipes I would like her to share so hopefully she will be appearing in the blog more in the future!

Enjoy!  Here’s Erin…..

Poland and Germany are where my family tree is rooted.  I grew up eating sauerbraten, pierogi, sauerkraut, and kielbasa.  These are the tastes and smells of my Christmas memories, of Grandma’s kitchen, and of the warmth of family.  But after I moved away from home I found my true food love: vegetarian creations that are spiced, herby, and packed with fresh stuff and good grains.  I am not a hardcore vegan, nor am I gluten free or dairy free, but that doesn’t mean I don’t often cook in those realms.  I learned to cook when I lived alone with one vegetarian cookbook and some terrible pots and pans.  This materialized into creative and sometimes unconventional cooking that has served me well over the years.  I’m a big fan of using basic recipes as suggestions that can always be improved upon to suit my household, or to accommodate the offerings of my refrigerator.  “Season to taste” is given a pretty wide berth in my kitchen.

The following recipe is modified from one I was given by my Great Aunt Eleanor, who was my only family member that didn’t scoff when I announced the first time I went vegetarian.  In fact she gave me the cookbook from where this recipe hails.  As with most dishes I cook, this could easily be served with a poached egg on top, or a sprinkling of freshly chopped mixed herbs, and/or even some toasted nuts like tamari almonds or spicy cashews.  (Heads up: my recipes always have lots of parentheses because I’m so noncommittal!)

Season-To-Taste Stew (a.k.a. Rice, Lentil, & Veggie Stew)

Serves 4 (I usually double this and store some in the fridge and some in Ball jars in the freezer – take to work and leave on desk…it’s pretty defrosted by lunchtime)

1 c. split red lentils

¼ c. long grain white rice (or brown, or wild, or maybe a half-cup if I want it thicker)

5 c. vegetable stock (I use Rapunzel bouillon cubes)

A couple tablespoons of any kind of oil for sautéing

1 onion, sliced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder (or chili pepper, or smoked paprika, etc.)

1 tsp garam masala (this is a must-have for this recipe and I usually double it)

1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced

1 c. small broccoli florets (I always use a peeler on the stalk too, then slice or chop and toss in)

8 baby corn cobs, halved lengthwise (or a drained can of corn, or a few handfuls of frozen or fresh corn kernels, whatever)

½ c. green beans, halved

14 oz. canned chopped tomatoes (I like fire roasted! Of course you can sub fresh, chopped toms)

1 Tbsp shredded basil (again, I always add more)

Salt and pepper

Fresh basil sprigs to garnish (or mint, or cilantro, or watercress, or Italian parsley)

*If you end up with the proper balance of broth to rice/lentils to veggies, then this dish can be a mash-up of whatever veggies you happen to have hanging out: cauliflower, carrots, sweet potato or Yukon golds, kohlrabi, zucchini, eggplant, okra, etc.

  1. Place the rice and vegetable stock in a large pot and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes or a bit longer if it’s brown or wild rice.  Add the lentils and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.  You want to time it so the lentils don’t turn to mush by the time the rice is fully cooked.

  2. In a pan with hot oil sauté the onion, garlic, ground cumin, chili powder, and garam masala, stirring for a few minutes.  Add the sliced bell pepper, broccoli, corn, and green beans to the pan and sauté for a few minutes more. 

  3. Along with the tomatoes and their can juice, add the sautéed veggies to the pot of rice and lentils.

  4. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

  5. Add the shredded basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

  6. Garnish with fresh basil sprigs and serve immediately.

  7. This is super good with a fresh salad that can have some bitterness or citrus to it, as the stew ends up being quite savory-sweet with the red pepper, corn, sweet potato, or carrot.  Also fantastic with biscuits or cornbread!

By the way for anyone who is interested I am teaching a cooking/detox class at the Duluth Whole Foods Coop!  It is next week April 17th at 6:00.
Click here for details or to sign up!
I would love to see some of you there!  Bring an appetite there will be lots to taste.

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