It’s really hard to make lentil stew look pretty. But believe me, this is so delicious and hearty – true comfort food for a wintery (ok, autumn-ey) evening and is very easy to throw together. We had it with mashed potatoes for a family dinner but this was just the leftovers for lunch all by itself.
Heat a large casserole pan, and sauté the onion, garlic and mushrooms in their own moisture, until softened. Use a splash of the stock to moisten slightly if drying out.
Add the capsicum and zucchini and allow to cook for a further 3-4 minutes.
Add the lentils, wine and stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until lentils are almost cooked, then reduce the heat, add the cauliflower and simmer for 10 or so minutes or until the cauliflower is tender.
The UK supermarket Waitrose does an AMAZING Vegetable Moussaka which I used to LOVE when I was living there (and still eating cheese). This is my attempt at a dairy free version, and I’m really happy with it. This is not a particularly speedy dish – a bit like lasagne – there are a few steps before assembly, but it’s really worth it. The sauce on the top is also on this site here.
Place lentils in a small saucepan with the bay leaf and bouillon powder, and water. Bring to the boil and then simmer until tender, around 20-30 minutes.
Heat sandwich toaster, and grill the eggplant slices until soft and slightly charred, and the potatoes until tender. Set aside. If you do not have one, you can grill or bake the slices in the oven.
Make the Creamy White Sauce.
Spray a pan with a little oil and sauté the onion, for 5 minutes; add garlic and cook another minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, wine and spices. Once broken down, add the jar of sauce and keep on a low simmer. Once lentils are cooked and tender (should be hardly any water left, stir them into the mixture with the fresh herbs and lemon juice. Season to taste and remove from heat
In a lasagne dish, put a thin layer (¼) of the lentils on the bottom, top with eggplant, more lentils, then a layer of potatoes, then lentils, eggplant, lentils then the white sauce. Top with breadcrumbs if you like.
Bake at 180 for 30 minutes, covering with foil half way through if necessary (if top browning too much).
Allow it to stand for 10 or so minutes prior to serving.
This was inspired by an old favourite dish Spiced Red Lentils with Cabbage by Mary Gwynn in a much loved and now old and battered cookbook from the 1990s! That was the introduction to me of the amazing combination of caraway seeds and cabbage. This has developed over time into this dish, which is bulked out with the addition of more cabbage, chickpeas and some other herbs & spices and then made creamy with the hoummus and zingy with lime juice.
1 tsp "steak seasoning" (combination of black pepper, onion, coriander, chili, cumin, oregano, garlic, mustard, etc)
1 tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp caraway seeds
½ cup tomato pasta based sauce
1 heaped tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup passata
2 cups vegetable stock
100g baby spinach
1 cup cooked chickpeas
¼ cup freshly chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
⅓ cup hoummous
Place a wide-based large casserole e.g . Le Creuset / saucepan (which has lid) on a medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic, then add the cabbage, dried spices and herbs, stir well to combine. Turn down the heat, add a splash of stock or water, place on the lid and allow to steam for around 5 minutes or until cabbage is wilted, take care it doesn’t catch or burn.
Add the lentils, tomato sauce, passata, paste and stock. Replace the lid and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the lentils have disintegrated.
Stir in the spinach and chickpeas, parsley, lime and hoummus and simmer for another few minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve. We had ours with brown rice and runner beans.
I’m quite happy it’s a bit rainy at the moment. Apart from the farmers who of course need this all day drizzle so desperately, it means it’s comfort food season and being originally from England, I have a special place in my heart for hearty steamy stews and casseroles. So here is one! I’ve sneaked kale into it again, and it’s packed full of other veggies in a lovely rich tomato sauce. You can throw others in it too, I often add frozen corn and peas as well (you can easily increase the quantities, you might just need to add a bit of extra stock and / or tomatoes), which bulks it out if you suddenly find you have extra mouths to feed and adds a splash of extra colour. We used regular tofu this time, but often make it with smoked tofu which accentuates the smokiness in the paprika. We love this brand, it never lasts long in our house…
I’m lucky enough to have a 5-1 cooker which is a pressure cooker / steamer / slow cooker / soup maker etc. and I’ve used the pressure cooker and soup function in this recipe which really speeds things up. If you don’t have a pressure cooker you can still make this, the speed also comes from the all in one method, so it won’t take ages anyway.
We served this with Rice Plus which is brown rice with added grains and seeds and is totally delicious.
1 cup soy milk mixed with 3 tsp cornflour til smooth
Lime juice - to serve - optional
Chilli sauce - ditto
Place all ingredients apart from soy milk & cornflour mixture and lime juice in a pressure cooker and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes then on soup setting / simmer for another 10 minutes. Stir in the soy milk with cornflour and simmer until flour cooked out and sauce is thickened.
If not using a super-duper appliance, put all ingredients apart from soy milk and cornflour mixture and lime juice in your pot and bring to the boil, and simmer for around 20-25 minutes or until your potatoes are cooked. Then add your soy milk and cornflour, and stir until the flour is cooked out and the stew is thickened.
Serve with rice or other grain or mashed potatoes.
Squeeze fresh lime juice over the top if liked, it adds a lovely piqancy. This also lends itself very easily to being pepped up with chilli sauce for those who like it...
I’m not sure what I was aiming for with the flavour balance on this one, I just started adding herbs and spices I happen to love. The result was a delightful surprise! My kids who aren’t that fond of lentils when they stay whole (they prefer mushy cooked-down texture of dishes like dahl) lapped this up and went back for seconds. It’s summer here so a stew isn’t the kind of thing I’d usually think of making but it really works with its south of France / Moroccan / Greek flavours. This comes together really easily with little effort once it’s all in the pot so although the cooking time is quite long, most of it is unattended. 🙂
1 cup dried Puy lentils (those are the little round dark green/blue ones)
1 large red onion, diced
500 g sliced mushrooms
1 large eggplant, diced
1 very large fat garlic clove - or ⅔ smaller ones
1 medium red capsicum, diced
½ bottle passata (or a can of chopped tomatoes, pureed)
Same volume of water as passata (fill up the empty jar / can)
1 t vegetable stock powder
1 t turmeric
1 t ground coriander
1 t smoked paprika
¼ cup apple juice
⅓ cup white wine
3 small bay leaves
1 t marjoram
1-2 T lemon juice
Small handful fresh mint leaves, (about 12 large leaves) chopped
** NOTE: t = teaspoon; T = tablespoon.
Put the lentils into a smallish saucepan, cover with water by a good inch or so and bring to the boil whilst you prep your veg. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and put the lid on. They should take around 20 minutes.
Heat a large frying pan on a medium heat and dry-fry the onion, mushroom and garlic until the moisture is released. Add the capsicum, eggplant and spices and continue cooking for about 10 minutes.
(You can use a large casserole dish for the whole cooking process, however you need to avoid stewing the vegetables or their flavour won't be brought out, that's why I'm starting off in the pan).
- Check your lentils and drain if cooked. You want them to be al dente, not hard and not breaking apart.
Pour into a large casserole dish (which has a close fitting lid), add the passata / tomatoes, water and stock powder, apple juice and white wine, bay leaves and marjoram. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to a simmer and put on the lid and simmer until eggplant very tender and falling apart (about 20-30 mins).
Add your cooked lentils and simmer, covered for another 10 or so minutes.
Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary.
Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and mint and leave to sit whilst you prepare / serve your accompaniments. Don't worry about it cooling down (especially if you're serving it in summer) as It is actually much better served at room temperature than "straight from the pot" hot.
We had ours with large gently boiled new potatoes (I put them on to cook at the same time as the lentils). Would also be great with couscous / rice or just good crusty bread. Some people might like to add hot chilli sauce at the table. (Yes I'm looking at you my chilli-sauce addict of a husband..).