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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Flexible and Spicy Lentils and Vegetables



A local grocery chain has their 15 oz cans of tomatoes and chiles on sale this week and I was getting hungry for lentils. A little rummaging in the cupboard and I came up with a vegetarian main dish that would be great for left over baked or boiled potatoes* and can be made with a wide variety of other vegetables added in, depending on your own leftovers or freezer selection.


Spicy Lentil Stew--Vegan

canola or olive oil
1 c (or more) chopped onion--one medium
1 c French or other lentils--about 8 oz
1 14 to 15 oz can diced tomatoes and chiles
enough water to rinse can 2 times (about 4 cups)
2 t garlic powder OR 4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
1 t cumin
1 to 2 t curry powder, to taste
salt to taste
1 large or 2 medium cooked or baked potatoes, cut in large chunks--about 12 oz
1 sweet potato, about 6 to 7 oz, peeled and cut in large chunks or slices
other vegetables as desired--see list below

1.  Saute the onion in a small amount of oil until it is just turning golden.
2.  Stir in the lentils, seasonings, tomatoes and chiles and water. Turn burner to medium low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes
3.  Stir in the sweet potatoes, add more water if needed, and cover. Cook another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils and sweet potatoes are tender.
 4.  Add the cooked potatoes and any other vegetables as desired. Taste for seasoning, cover pan and allow to cook another 5 to 10 minutes, until all is heated through and flavors have blended a bit.

Optional vegetables can be anything, really. However, the most "traditional" would be these:
  • frozen peas
  • frozen or lightly cooked cauliflower
  • spinach, kale, or other greens--if using fresh, add about 10 minutes before serving so they are just cooked through
This is a good place to use up leftover vegetables or those small amounts of frozen vegetables left when you followed that recipe that called for 10 oz of peas or corn or whatever and you had a 12 or 16 oz package.

Other notes:
Squash or carrots could also be substituted for the sweet potatoes.
If  you don't have any leftover potatoes, scrub the potato or potatoes, pierce, and put in the microwave for 3 to 6 minutes, depending on your own oven, until they are just barely tender.  You can do this while you are beginning the lentils. Allow the potatoes to cool enough to handle and cut into chunks.


*About "boiled potatoes" for younger and/or non-midwestern readers: Back in the meat and potatoes days, a very common way to make potatoes for "everyday" meals was to prepare and cook them as for mashed potatoes. When they were finished cooking, the water was drained--often as the liquid in gravy for the ubiquitous chops or steaks or meatloaf or whatever--and then served as is. Perhaps a little butter would be drizzled over along with some salt and pepper, but that was the extent of their preparation. I hardly ever see any reference to potatoes prepared in this way any more--you might want to try it out if you've never tasted this old-fashioned dish.

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