One of my readers is an esteemed professional colleague who also happens to be a vegetarian. Occasionally she will “challenge” me to prepare a particular type of dish – in this instance a Greek vegetarian recipe. I am only too happy to oblige with this delicious, and very easy to prepare, lentil stew.
The whole dish comes together in the space of less than an hour including prep time. Here are your ingredients to satisfy four hungry vegetarian lumberjacks:
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ¼ cup green lentils
- 1 large onion, sliced into thin crescents
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
- 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
- ¼ cup tomato puree
- 1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
- ½ tsp. red chile flakes
- 1 qt. vegetable stock, hot
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Start by rinsing the lentils thoroughly in a mesh strainer under cold water. Place the lentils in a large saucepan and cover with more cold water by about one inch. Bring the pot to a boil and cook the lentils for about 4 minutes, then drain and set them aside for now.
Clean out the saucepan for the main phase of the cooking. Heat the olive oil over medium flame. When it is hot, add the onions and sauté them until they are tender and translucent, but not brown, which should take about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds, then stir in the cooked lentils, followed by the carrots, tomatoes and puree, then the oregano and chile flakes. When all of this is mixed together, add the hot vegetable stock and bring the pot up to a boil. Back it down to a low, gentle simmer, cover the pot and let the stew cook slowly for about 20 minutes. Be careful not to let your stew cook too rapidly or too long, or your lentils will likely turn to mush. At the end of the cook time, adjust your seasonings with salt and pepper, and you’re ready to serve with a fresh parsley garnish.
We were pleased at just how richly flavors can be developed in a simple vegetarian dish like this one. We served it up with some stuffed grape leaves and naan, and enjoyed ourselves immensely as we munched down this savory Greek dinner with a big happy grin on our faces – made all the bigger by knowing we were yet again bringing yummy and healthy together in the same bowl. Give it a try – your taste buds and your healthy body with both thank you. Until next time: Eat well, my friends!