Thursday, August 12, 2010

Red Lentil and Quinoa Stew

This was so good that when I tasted it to adjust the seasoning at the end, I uttered something that was both really profane and really, really obscene. For the sake of people's sensibilities, I won't repeat it here.

Once again, I am at the scraping the pantry stage of the grocery cycle where I challenge myself to create delicious dishes with just what I have on hand, forcing myself to make substitutions as needed. Since I am eating vegan again, this brings along an additional layer of complexity as I may try to veganize old recipes.

At the moment, I have very few vegetarian/vegan specialty items like tempeh or seitan, but one thing I do have in abundance is a whole mess of dried legumes. I am silly with them, in fact, from black-eyed peas, to black beans and great northern beans to a variety of split peas and lentils. I made my wonderfully spicy lentil soup yesterday with those earthy brown lentils, and today decided that I needed more spice and more lentils, so I adapted my take on red lentil dhal and created a red lentil and quinoa stew.

After I had devoured my bowl of the stew, my 7 year-old daughter came over and sniffed the bowl cautiously before asking me, "Is this some kind of soup, Mommy?" I told her that it was, and that it was yummy, and she asked for some, saying, "It looks like a carrot soup," "Yes," I said, "There is some carrot in there," and ladled out a bit for her to try.

"YUM!" She said, giving me a thumbs-up.

Sometimes Mommy just flat-out rocks the house and gets it right.

Edit: The kid scarfed down two bowls of this stew. That's right, TWO.

Red Lentil and Quinoa Stew

  • 1 stalk celery, diced finely
  • 1 medium onion, diced finely
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced finely
  • 1/2 cup of grated carrot
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped (about 2 T)
  • 1/4 cup diced tomato
  • 3/4 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 5 cups water or broth
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • chili powder
  • coriander
  • cumin
  • turmeric
  • 1 bay leaf
  • hot sauce

  1. Heat 2 T olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the chopped onion and celery and saute for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the bell pepper, carrots and garlic, stirring well.
  4. After 5 minutes or so, when the vegetables have softened significantly, add the tomato and stir well.
  5. Add the spices and let cook for a minute.
  6. Add the red lentils and quinoa, turn the heat to high and add the water and the tomato paste.
  7. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, keep covered and let simmer for 30 minutes.
  8. Taste and adjust seasoning. Here's where I add the hot sauce.
  9. Simmer uncovered another 15 minutes until the lentils are no longer crunchy. Fish out the bay leaf.
  10. Serve, adding more hot sauce as your palate dictates. Today, my palate commanded a heavy hand with the Cholula.

  • I used half red quinoa and half white quinoa (1/4 cup each), but it would be delicious with either one of those or black quinoa if you can find it.
  • I could not find my coriander powder in the horror show that is my spice cabinet, but I did have a jar of coriander seeds, so I broke out my handy mortar and pestle and crushed them up.

    If you decide to do this, be sure to crush the seeds very thoroughly so you don't have to bite down on the sharp husks of the coriander seeds. Although I use whole coriander in some Indian dishes, those sauces tend to simmer for a very long time, softening the seeds. If this is too much work for you, then make sure that your coriander powder is easily accessible.
  • I was purposely vague about the seasoning amounts today because, well, I didn't even measure anything out, I just "salted" everything, although I can tell you that I used about 1/2 teaspoon of coriander seeds and about the same amount of ground cumin, and only 1 bay leaf.
  • Speaking of salt, as you can see, I used none in this recipe, though you are certainly free to S&P this dish to your liking.
  • If you are itching to garnish this with something, I'd go with chopped cilantro. I realized way after the fact that I have a bunch of cilantro languishing in the crisper of my fridge. Sometimes I think that the crisper is where veggies go to die. Things get lost in there. Tsk.
  • Hot sauce - After years of being a Frank's aficionado, lately I have been reaching for Cholula, but have been meaning to try some of the hot sauces made by the folks of our own Dinosaur BBQ right here in Syracuse.

    They have Devil's Duo Pepper Sauce and a Garlic Chipotle Pepper Sauce. If those sauces are near as good as their barbecue slathering sauces and rubs, I predict that they'll be out of this world.

    Click the picture to go to the site.


Anonymous said...

FINALLY a recipe to incorporate both lentils (which I am not a huge fan of, but know I need to eat) and Quinoa (which I love). I am trying this next week. We just wrapped up a 30 day Vegan/Vegetarian challenge and will continue to eat this way 4x a week from here on out. Thanks for posting!

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