Monday, September 23, 2013

Spicy Lentil Stew

So over the weekend I got one of these at the church parking lot sale.

My dear mum had given me one when I was in seminary, but it was a super mega size one that could cook for about 20 people.  I gave it away to my church secretary several parishes ago because she was cooking for soccer teams, literally.  

But then I spent the last two years blowing things up in the pressure cooker, and cooking beans in my rice maker, and then I read an article about a slow cooking triathlete. With my long work hours plus my training time, I want good healthy hot meals when I get home from rainy training runs or rides.  And M likes to cook but not all the time. He'd like easy hot magical meals sometimes too.  So when I noticed this one, I figured it was worth the $5 at half price time.

Today, I made this. It is clean out the fridge time at our house, aka the end of the month when I decide to eat down the fridge and pantry before I do a stock up grocery run.  I try to use all the odds and ends I can. I had a recipe for a goodness soup, and a recipe for spicy lentil stew, so I decided to combine them and eliminate the dairy ingredients to see what happened.  

Worst case scenario, I figured we have great vegan pizza in this town.  

It started like this.

It came out like this.

This is my story.  

2 cups lentils.
Roughly chop all these veggies into chunks. I peeled them too.  
-3 stalks celery, two carrots. 
-Half onion. 
Enough water/stock to just cover the mixture.  I used Better than Buillion made slightly weak.  We are scientific here.  

Cumin, sage, oregano, and chili flakes, about a fat tsp of each.  I like spicy, so you can add more or less spicy according to taste.  I didn't need salt, but I did add pepper.  
You could add miso at the end if you like. I like miso, myself.

Optionals: (these were in my fridge- you can add any, all, or none of these.) 
I fennel bulb.  
Zucchini. (Half ish? I used the leftover ends after I was done spiralizing my lunch zucchini.)
Beet.  (I know, I hate beets, but I had one and I figured i wouldn't see it in the end product). 
Napa cabbage (about 1 c?) 
Bell pepper end (the rest was in my salad). 

Cook on low all day. Try not to freak out like I did.  The house won't burn down.  Trust the slow cooker.

About an hour from dinner, taste things. They should be cooked but not totally mushy. Crank that puppy up to high.  

15 minutes before dinner, purée the stew.  I used a separate blender, but smarty pants people say it's ok to use the hand blender.  Next time, I'll do that.  

Serve with crusty roll or in my case, a quick vegan stove top dumpling.  I bet if I had thought of dumplings earlier, I could have puréed the soup and added the dumplings when I got home. As it was, I used a stovetop griddle to cook them like wet sloppy English muffins. You could also put it over brown rice or maybe quinoa, if you like. 

I kept one serving of soup for tmrw, and put five into the freezer.  I had two servings tonight. I'm calling a serving four of my 1 cup ladle scoops (so four cups, or one big soup bowl), and my recipe calculator says that is 131 calories, 62% of your RDA for vitamin A, 6% of calcium, and a whopping 16.8% for iron.  You get 1 gram fat, 507g for potassium, 23.2 g carb, and 9 G protein.  

Next time, I think I will add some fat like some olive oil or coconut oil.  It was massively tasty just as it is, but I had this as a main supper dish.  Obviously, this is way low in fat, and as an athlete, I find my body really needs those extra fat calories. (I had two servings, and I'm stuffed, and still 500 calories under my "limit" for today. I need more!).  This would also be great for adding ribbons of dark greens- I might do that for Lunch tomorrow.  Just make ribbons of dark greens and stir them into the puréed stew.  Pretty, AND vitamins! Maybe I'll add that drizzle of olive oil tomorrow, too.  

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