Today I introduced legumes. I anticipated being so excited for today, so anxious, but what surprised me was that I was a little meh about it. Don’t get me wrong, I welcome the new options, but that’s really all it was: the ability to add new flavors and variety to meals. A week and a half later and a person settles in to a fruit and veggie only routine. It actually makes eating much simpler in that there are very clear distinctions about what I can and cannot eat. That surprised me – pleasantly.
But, as wonderful as they are, I am not sure if a person can live on fruits and vegetables alone for the rest of her life, so I decided lentils would be a good introductory meal. The weather turned bizarrely cold for a day so I threw everything in the crock pot before I left for work, turned it on low and looked forward to the magic that waited to warm me up when I got home hours later.
I didn’t have everything I needed to make the Lentil Soup the Whole Living website actually calls for, so I did some searching for a similar recipe for which I had all the ingredients. I ended up using Kalyn’s recipe as a template but adjusted it to use up some of the leftover goodies from past recipes and to cut out the few things I couldn’t have.
Picadillo Lentil Stew
Vegan, Soy free, Gluten free, Refined sugar free
Disclaimer: I love spicy- like spicy spicy. Bare that in mind when preparing. For example, you could easily select a can of diced tomatoes without the extra green chilis to lessen the spice.
2 cups dried brown or green lentils, rinsed and picked over
4 garlic cloves, diced
2-3 tsp. olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
1 to 1.5 cup diced bell pepper (I used Sweet Mini-Peppers.)
1.5 tsp. dried oregano
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. hot chili powder
1 tbsp. red pepper flakes
1 can (14.5 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes with juice
1 can (3.8 oz – or more depending on how much you like olives) sliced black olives
Diced green chili peppers (I used a little more than half of a 4 oz can, but add according to your spice tolerance)
1 cup water*
Add chopped celery, carrots, and lentils.
Add chopped peppers.
Add spices, olives and green chilis. Top with tomato sauce, remaining diced tomatoes and water*. Stir to combine. Turn crock pot on low heat and allow to cook for 5-7 hours.
Mine thickened more than the last picture indicates, but don’t be afraid to add a little cornstarch if you want a thicker stew, just remember to mix it with cold water before adding it in.
Topping suggestions: Habanero hot sauce, avocado
*I was being lazy and used Trader Joe’s steamed lentils instead of making my own. If you do make your own, be sure to save a cup of the cooking water when you drain and use that instead. It will give a better flavor.
Breakfast: Chia seed porridge
Lunch: Roasted cauliflower and peppers (substituted pine nuts and capers)
Dinner: Picadillo Stew with mixed greens
Feature photo credit: Kalyn