“Magnesium is Nature’s own calcium channel blocker. When enough magnesium is around, veins and arteries breathe a sigh of relief and relax… Want to literally keep your heart happy? Eat lentils.” – whfoods.com
about a month or so ago, I decided to cook with lentils for the first time ever. i am heavy with regret that i waited so long. why? because they are a nutritional powerhouse in a tiny adorable package… that’s why. Health magazine touted them as one of the five healthiest foods we can eat. they are one of the highest protein rich legumes out there… packing a whopping 26g of protein. they are fiber rich, thus cholesterol reducing, and brilliant for weight loss, given their low fat and high fiber content. they pack iron, B vitamins, zinc (cold season BFF) and an outstanding 120% of Folate! so yeah, i fell for lentils. it was a beautiful thing, and I believe I picked the absolute perfect dish in which to begin this life-long relationship… an Italian lentil soupy stew. i decided what I wanted to be in the stew… thought about how I should bring it all together… and fast forward spoon to mouth, the bright – bold flavors blew me away! this pot of yumminess will last you several days, and feed you (and a willing friend) lunch and dinner (and heck even breakfast one lazy Sunday if we’re being honest) for all of said days. this recipe warms you in the fall and winter, and is bright and refreshing enough to eat in spring and summer as well while enjoying a book on the patio! The flavors marry, and it truly keeps getting better. it can even be served atop scrambled eggs with some crunchy baked pita wedges to help get every last bit to your mouth. the fat content on this is next to nothing… only coming from the little bit of olive oil you begin with. so eating a bowl late at night while catching up on your favorite TV is definitely not out of the question. that is, as long as you have a steel stomach and will not be up half of the night with heartburn!! you were warned. ok lets get on with it… this dish comes together in about 20 minutes with all of the chopping and can opening- and it cooks for 30 minutes. it is a one pot meal- aka all cooking done in same pot.
WHAT YOU NEED:
large onion (diced)
3-4 carrots (small dice)
half of a red bell pepper (or orange or yellow- NOT green)
3 cloves of garlic- peeled and minced
2 T olive oil (maybe more- go with it)
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. coriander (if this is the only thing stopping you from making this dish if you don’t have it- leave it out!! it will be fine!
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
large handful of baby spinach (maybe a cup packed) – roughly chop
2 cans chicken broth (sub vegetable broth for vegan version!!)
1 cup of water
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 cup of lentils (i used greenish brown regular lentils)- soak them in warm water while you prep and then rinse well prior to adding.
a splash of lemon juice and a small handful of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley stirred in at the end really brings this to life… but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have either. it is SPOT on without. 🙂
HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:
add some olive oil to a dutch oven. prepare your vegetables as outlined above, and open your cans so you are ready to move forward. get your lentils soaking in a dish in warm water. turn on your pot and heat the olive oil over high heat. add your onions, carrots and bell pepper. saute over med/high heat for five minutes or so- stirring often- add garlic near end and cook a minute longer. onions should begin to soften and turn a slightly brownish color. add your dried spices and saute a minute longer. at this point you can add your tomatoes, broth, water and bay leaf. drain and rinse your lentils a bit, and add them into the mix. bring mixture back up to a boil- and then cover- leaving a small gap in the lid. reduce heat to medium low- and set timer for 30 mins. stir ONCE during cooking. after 30 mins- remove lid and stir in your spinach. (plus parsley and lemon squeeze if you are going that route.) at this point it is done and can be served up in a nice shallow bowl. i like to let it sit, uncovered on the stove for another 10 mins or so- off the heat – just to let it rest after all of that hard work. sprinkle your serving with some parmesan cheese and serve with a nice piece of fresh garlic bread for over the top enjoyment. also good with some simple crackers alongside- or straight up with nothing at all. store in fridge (in the pot if you wish) for up to four days. Enjoy!