Recipes,  Vegetarian

Vegetarian lentils stew: the staple of every household

Hello, dearest readers!

Another week has just kicked off and I hope you all have had the best start possible. We are already halfway into March and Easter is round the corner. I suppose you are looking forward to it despite still being locked down, aren’t you? In one way or another, there will be a long Bank Holiday and we should never refuse a few days off!

Today I am bringing one of those recipes that no household skips whatsoever. For the Spanish, lentils is the non-negotiable of the weekly meal plan. It is like this in my opinion because you cannot miss such a nutritious dish: proteins, carbohydrates, fibre… They include everything you need. Our parents can be very obstinate about the fact of eating lentils and, in consequence, we hate it when we are kids. However, we appreciate and eventually love it as we become adults. When I moved to Oxford in 2015 I did not eat a single portion in a very long time. I missed it so much that I asked my mum for one the first time I travelled back home. But luckily now I am back on track taking my once-a-week dose.

Beforehand, you must know that there is not a standard recipe. Traditionally it includes meat such chorizo or pork ribs, but this is totally up to you. Yesterday me and my partner cooked a vegetarian version with what we had in the pantry. In this aspect, you can add as many vegetables as you wish. The only detail you must bear in mind is about the main ingredient. Firstly, only brown lentils are appropriate. Then, you can boil them straight away instead of soaking in water a few hours before cooking. This is possible because the varieties sold in British stores are not as hard as those you usually find in Spain.

INGREDIENTS (SERVES 4)

  • Lentils (300 gr)
  • Rice (100 gr)
  • Carrot (1 large)
  • Garlic cloves (3)
  • Potato (1 large)
  • Onion (1 large)
  • Red pepper (half large)
  • Canned tomato (3 tbsp)
  • Water
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sweet paprika (1 teaspoon)
  • Cumin (half teaspoon)

DIRECTIONS FOR COOKING

  1. Make a little incision on each garlic clove, chop the carrot and dice the potato. Put into a casserole with the lentils and cover with water up to half inch over the limit. Add salt, pepper, olive oil and boil at low heat.

2. In the meantime, use a separate pan to cook the sofrito. This is the base that will boost the stew’s flavour. Chop the onion in quarters, the pepper in sticks and fry at medium heat. When tender, add the tomato, the sweet paprika and a pinch of salt and gently simmer for one minute. Be careful because the paprika burns quite easily.

3. Once the sofrito is cooked, transfer all the ingredients into a blender beaker and grind until you get an almost creamy and uniform texture. Drop it into the casserole, mix by shaking it (do not use the ladle, otherwise you could break the lentils), add the cumin and boil covered with the lid for about 30 minutes. Taste regularly to check the lentils are softening.

4. Throw the rice five minutes before turning the heat off. Add more salt if needed. Then, stop the cooking, and let it rest for 10 minutes until the textures becomes slightly thick.

5. Serve in a bowl or deep plate and enjoy! Optionally, add a few drops of malted vinegar on it.

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