Cider Lentil Stew; . . . My New Favorite Lentil Dish
# 1 - Ingredients
(tsp. = teaspoon / tbls. = tablespoon)
1/2 lb. - cleaned and rinsed brown lentils
1 cup - onion ( med. diced)
1 cup - carrot ( med. diced)
1 cup - Russett potatoes (1/2" diced and micro - waved in water for approx. 6 min. to soften slightly)
1 cup - ham (med. diced) (Sauteed to crisp up and brown slightly)
3 tbls. - tomato paste
2 tsp - dried mint leaves
2 tsp. - crushed red pepper flakes *(1 - 3 tsp. depending on tolerance for heat)
3 tbls. - cider vinegar
2 cups - apple cider
black pepper - to taste
salt - to taste
** We sometimes use chicken sausage or chorizo in this stew, and we sometimes omit the carrots or the potatoes. Use what you have; the stew will still be delicious!!
# 2 - Preparing the lentils
Use brown / green lentils for this dish, and quickly pick through them for stones, then rinse before proceeding.
Then put a glass measuring cup with 4 cups of water in the micro wave to heat until a full boil is achieved. (For our microwave, it's approx. 11 min.)
Pour 1/2 lb. of lentils into the boiling water, and let stand, uncovered, for 17 min.
# 3 - Add onions to give the dish a well rounded flavor.
Dice an onion to medium fine, so that there is about 1 cup when done dicing.
Cook in a heavy 4 qt. saucepan, in a tablespoon of unsalted butter, with a little olive oil added, until the onions are translucent.
Remove from the heat.
# 4 - Combine these ingredients as the lentils are steeping
To the translucent onions, add salt and pepper to taste, then add the carrots, potatoes, tomato paste, mint leaves and crushed red pepper flakes.
# 5 - Add the drained lentils
At the end of the seventeen min. steeping time. add the drained lentils to the onion mixture.
Add the 2 cups of cider, and mix well.
Cover and cook at a slow simmer over low heat for approx. 25 min,.
# 6 - Add the diced ham and vinegar to finish
After the 25 min. slow simmer time, remove the lentils from the heat, and add the sauteed ham and cider vinegar. Mix well.
Add salt to taste, and enjoy.
(We try to always let the lentils sit in the frig. overnight before eating, as this allows the flavors to develop even more.)
(When reheating in the microwave, add a little water. to create a nice broth.)
# 7 - Eat as an entree, or serve with your favorite protein
I find that I often have a small bowl of the lentil stew with a roasted chicken thigh for lunch, or for dinner, I usually have the stew with no additional protein.
This stew is also absolutely delicious served as a bed for salmon!! (When cooking specifically for salmon, I occasionally omit the ham, as the salmon is more than enough protein.)
Since my wife and I seem to have evolved to a more Mediterranean diet, and eat very little red meat, this stew fits nicely into our Mediterranean portfolio.