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.
¼ cup butter (or olive oil for vegetarian/vegan)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup diced mushrooms
1/3 cup whole (often called pot) barley *
1/2 cup 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) **
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 ½ – 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock (can use water instead)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground rosemary
1/2 cup 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.