Thursday, January 31, 2013

Red Lentil Sweet Potato Stew

Red Lentil Sweet Potato Stew

Lentils are a poor woman's friend. When dining on a vegan budget I have discovered that these little powerhouses are one of my best friends. They offer a ton of nutrition packed into a little tiny legume, with fiber, folate, magnesium, and iron (good for your digestion, good for your heart), and lentils also supply the always-important-to-a-vegan-diet protein--almost 18 grams per cup.

This recipe is super simple, rich and hearty. The key to maximizing flavor is to use a homemade veggie stock, click here for the recipe, and bloom your spices in oil to coax out their flavor. Cooking your spices for a couple of minutes opens up the essential oils. Use this technique for all recipes that call for spices and you will taste a world of difference.

2 extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 diced large onion
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 minced cloves garlic
2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger (optional but worth it if you can find it!)
2 peeled and diced sweet potatoes
2 peeled and diced carrots
1 celery stalk diced
1 diced (stemmed, seeded) red bell pepper
1 onion diced
1 1/2 cups rinsed red lentils (you can also use brown or green lentils)
6 cups vegetable stock
6 cups baby spinach or other greens
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Chopped fresh parsley
Chopped avocado

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook cumin, turmeric and curry powder until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Cooking the spices is an important step because it "blooms" the spice and makes them more flavorful. 
2. Add onion, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until tender, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until tender, about 2 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and bell pepper and cook 3 minutes.
3. Add lentils and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, anywhere between 20 minutes and 1 hour. I like to let the soup simmer for a little longer so the lentils are soft and it turns into an almost split-pea-like consistency. Add greens, red pepper flakes, taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Top with parsley and avocado before serving.


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