… and if you are eating by the rules, it will be ‘Meatless Monday‘
Meatless Monday is an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays in order to improve their health and the health of the planet. Campaigns such as this are helpful in raising our personal and collective awareness that recognizes the power of making one seemingly innocuous decision each week.
Not to confuse matters, but did you know that today, March 9th, is also known as Meatball Monday in the U.S? …hmmm…. What do I make for dinner?
I think we’ll be going meatless.
This used to be called ‘soup’, but because it is so thick and hearty, ‘stew’ seems much more appropriate. Spinach and Lentil Stew is the first idea that comes to mind when it’s time to serve a meatless entree – very nourishing and satisfying …add a salad, and maybe some bread . Today, I have some leftover Chili Cornbread Muffins in the freezer.
Lentils, which are both economical and nutritious (high in protein and complex carbs), are an ancient legume …one of our first domesticated crops. Their colours can range from yellow to red-orange to green, brown and black. Lentils also vary in size, and can be whole or split. Due to texture and cooking time needed, I prefer the red split or brown lentils for this dish. If you are short on time, canned lentils work beautifully.
…and, after the stew has completed cooking, don’t forget to finish with the balsamic vinegar. It just brings everything together in such a beautiful way.
Spinach and Lentil Stew
Prep time: 15-20 minutes Cooking Time: 1 hour
Number of Servings: 6
2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
1 onion, small dice
2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
2-3 carrots, thinly sliced, or small-dice
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup (170 g / 250 mL) dried red or brown lentils, rinsed
1 can (156 mL / 5.5 fl oz) tomato paste
3-4 cups (750 mL-1 1itre) vegetable stock
1 can (796 mL/28 fl oz) diced tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, undrained
2 or 3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon (15 mL) fresh thyme, or ¾ teaspoon (3 mL) dried thyme
¾ tsp (3 mL) dried whole savory
1 teaspoon (5 mL) crushed fennel seeds
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Worcestershire sauce
1 pkg (300 g) frozen chopped spinach, unthawed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) celery salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (1.5-2.5 mL) dried crushed chili flakes (or to taste)
½ tablespoon (7 mL) Kosher salt
1 teaspoon (5 mL) freshly ground pepper – or to taste
2 tablespoons (30 mL) balsamic vinegar
Grated Asiago or Parmigiana-Reggiano Cheese
- In a large Dutch oven, sauté onion, carrots, chopped fennel, and celery in olive oil until soft and fragrant (about 5 minutes) – do not brown.
- Add garlic and lentils. Continue to saute for 1-2 minutes.
- Add tomato paste, stock, tomatoes, and bay leaves. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the vegetables and lentils are almost tender.
- Add thyme, savory, fennel seeds, Worcestershire sauce and frozen spinach. Continue to simmer for 25-30 minutes – or until lentils and the vegetables are tender.
- Add celery salt, salt, and pepper. Discard bay leaves. Add chili flakes, if desired.
- Stir in vinegar after heat has been turned off. Adjust seasonings if necessary.
- Top with some chopped parsley or grated cheese.
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