A great ‘gateway’ dish for those who are new to lentils!
This dish is so satisfyingly yummy it can turn non-believers into lentil lovers! I encourage you to give this healthy, hearty stew a try, no matter if you are traditionally a meat eater, a vegetarian or a vegan – it seems to appeal to everyone. You can play around with the broth, vegetables and seasoning if you like; I prefer it as described below because the taste is very harmonious and balanced. My sister introduced me to this stew decades ago and I am still amazed that it doesn’t need garlic to pack a flavour punch. If you use water instead of stock, this stew is also a very economical recipe. Note that it can easily be doubled and freezes beautifully. Serve this piping hot with a loaf of crusty bread.
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) butter (or olive oil for vegetarian/vegan)
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped onion
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped celery
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) diced mushrooms
- 1/3 cup (90 mL) whole (often called pot) barley*
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) dried red lentils, picked over for stones and rinsed well
- 6 – 8 ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped in 1/2″ pieces (enough to yield 3 1/2 cups, or 875 mL)**
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) tomato paste
- 2 1/2 – 3 cups (625 – 750 mL) vegetable or chicken stock (can use water instead)
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground rosemary
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) grated carrot
- 1 small zucchini, sliced thin
*I like pot rather than pearl barley – it’s less refined and more nutritious.
**You can substitute a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes (low sodium if you can find it).
- In a large, heavy saucepan, melt butter (or add olive oil) and sauté onion till tender.
- Add celery and cook 5 minutes longer stirring occasionally.
- Add mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
- Add lentils, barley, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and seasonings.
- Add 2 ½ cups of the stock (or water, if using).
- Bring to a boil, cover and simmer gently for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- If it seems thicker than you’d prefer, add a bit more stock or water.
- Add carrots and zucchini just before serving and cook 5 minutes longer.
- If you are making the stew ahead of time, it will continue to thicken as the barley and lentils absorb moisture, so add a little more water or stock to make it the consistency you like when you are reheating it.
Serves 4 – 6.