Savoury

Italian Lentil Stew

‘I’m busy.’ The words that I repeat at least 16 times a day to turn down social commitments. I love being busy – it makes me feel like I have a purpose to my life. Although I knew that at some point I was going to be in deep shit with my friends, and this happened just last week. I had forgotten what it’s like to be at a fun party (unlike most of the other social events I am forced to be at) and what an incredibly fun time it was to genuinely relax. Perhaps being busy isn’t all that schnaz? Next time you ask me out for coffee and I turn you down, go ahead send this post to me!

This recipe inspired by the Italian Ciambotta – a summer vegetable stew that is made to use up everything from the garden – and involves a method of slow cooking, but is hands-off as well. Here I am using lentils, that are soaked overnight, or for at least 2-3 hours for quicker cook time, along with some vegetables – everything is cooked into one pot, and is full of lovely flavours. In my opinion, the most important ingredient is the vegetable stock – it adds so much depth to the stew. I have made this recipe with plain water as well, and although it works well, the flavor from the stock is unbeatable. you can make your homemade vegetable stock which is the most ideal way, but you also get many natural, preservative-free stock powder from the markets.

This stew is one that begs for personalization – vegetables such as zucchini and eggplant work well for more meat-iness and of course, fresh herbs, and even mini cubes of potatoes – whatever that takes your fancy/and is in your fridge.

The Recipe
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lentils, soaked 2-3 hours, rinsed
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup peppers, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup white wine (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • black pepper
  • parmesan cheese
  • garlic bread, rice, pasta or polenta

Instructions

  • Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil on medium heat in a deep pot for around 5 minutes, or until fragrant
  • Add the carrots, celery and peppers with bay leaf, thyme and salt and cook for another 5-7 minutes with the lid on
  • Note: if you have white wine lying around, add the wine now
  • Once the vegetables have cooked through, add the lentils and tomatoes and stir for a few minutes
  • Then add the stock and tomatoes and cover and let cook for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked through
  • Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, pepper and parmesan cheese