January 28, 2014

Sky-high Lentil Stew

There was a death on the plane back to London. It was the woman beside me.I didn't know it could happen like that. I mean, I knew, but I didn't believe it.
We pushed our seats back at the same time, our eyes met, and we laughed. We'd both ordered vegetarian meals. "I hate this food," she said. "But I like getting it before everyone else."
Mr. Fox, Helen Oyeyemi
If I were a vegetarian, my kryptonite would probably be the smell of bacon frying in a pan. I would also lust after a hearty bowl of beef noodle soup. A lot. But you know what would make it all worth it? Getting to enjoy my meal before all of the many, many meat-eating passengers on the plane. Of course, you don't actually have to be vegetarian to request a vegetarian meal on your flight. As Mr. Fox points out, it's a secret that comes in handy if you're the type of person to get hungry at high altitudes.

I'd consider going vegetarian if every vegetarian meal tasted as good as a well made lentil stew. My lentil stews have evolved a lot over the years. I started out with green lentils and a tomato base, and then I fell in love with the texture of red lentils. Red lentils are magical things. They cook more quickly than brown or green lentils. And when they break down, they create a consistency that's lusciously creamy.

My favorite lentil stew is made with red lentils, and seasoned with curry powder. This McCormick one is pretty darn tasty. I vary the mix of vegetables from time to time, depending on what I have on hand. Sometimes I add mushrooms. Sometimes I add celery. But I always include onions, carrots, and tomatoes. It's one of the most satisfying vegetarian meals around. Adding potatoes also helps thicken and bulk up this stew, making it even heartier. Best of all, this recipe makes a bunch of stew—enough for dinner for two, and plenty of leftovers. Add a perfectly hard-boiled egg and a dash of tabasco sauce, and call it tomorrow's lunch. Your coworkers will be jealous...as jealous as the plane passengers who didn't have the foresight to choose the vegetarian option.

Lentil Stew
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
2 small tomatoes, chopped
1 cup of sliced mushrooms (white button or bella, whatever you have)
2 Yukon Gold or red potatoes, cubed
8 oz. red lentils, rinsed and drained
Curry powder, salt and pepper to taste

Drizzle a large stock pot with olive oil and cook all of the vegetables for 10 minutes until softened and the onions are opaque.

Add the lentils and enough water to barely cover the vegetables and lentils. Stir and cover. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Allow to cook for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it needs more water, add more water. Season with curry powder until it tastes just how you like it. Enjoy your flight, and relish the idea of eating your meal before all of the other passengers are served theirs.


Anonymous said...

As a first-hand (first-taste?) eater of this stew, I have to say it was A++.

Christine said...

haha I also order the vegetarian meal so I can eat FIRST! Mr. Fox has got it right...