When there’s nothing in the house to make; make this.
Preliminaries Prep any meat or poultry from Step 1 of the Stew-cordion: chicken, sausage, lamb, or soak dried mushrooms in hot but not boiling water. Otherwise just rinse and just pick over the lentils.
- Heat pan And decide what the fat will be: healthy olive oil, or a combo of butter, bacon or nearly any other fat and/or oil.
- Heat oil And start to rummage for the veggies.
- Brown meat Brown it if you’ve got it. Otherwise, just quickly chop the onion and garlic.
- Sauté onion and garlic As usual, the onion is first. Saute till translucent (or till browned.) Then the garlic. While those are cooking, chop the veggies in order of “hardness”: carrot, celery and tomatoes (canned or fresh) are especially good. Other suggestions: cabbage, mushrooms, sweet red or green peppers and/or spinach.
- Sauté veggies, spices As usual, if the meat is tough, delay adding the veggies till after step 8. Otherwise continue to sauté veggies and chop more as the harder ones cook. Strain the canned tomatoes and reserve the juice. For Mediterranean style use these spices: rosemary, oregano, sage and/or marjoram. For a Moroccan-style stew, use turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, and/or el ras hanout. Add the lentils and let them toast for a minute or two.
- Add the wet ingredients 1/2 cup of white or red wine, reserved tomato juice and/or mushroom water, broth and/or water. Use enough to generously cover the ingredients so far plus at least 1/2 inch.
- Simmer / fuss Add back any meat from Step 4. Partially cover the pot and let the stew gently simmer for 15 minutes for red lentils, up to 45 for large, old browns. Prepare the garnishes: chop parsley, cilantro, slivered almonds.
- Add garnish, serve Serve over couscous, noodles, or with fresh bread. The photo above includes a dollop of yogurt.