Showing posts with label lentil stew. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lentil stew. Show all posts

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ras el Hanout

This post could have been captioned "Confessions of a Top Chef - aholic."  Yep, my favorite food porn is back in the form of Top Chef Masters.  I watch, dazzled, as the cheftestants prepare gourmet food out of canned goods and penny candy, with nothing but a camp stove and with one hand tied behind their back.  Literally.  (Okay, all of those restrictions are from separate challenges, but whatever ... the point is, the cheftestants are wizards, and I am their humble acolyte.)

Of course, my culinary skills are significantly more limited, my palate less refined.  I consider myself a decent home cook because I can make a passable spinach lasagna and follow a recipe like a champ. 

Still, part of me yearns to dabble in the magical world of the Top Chef kitchen.  Which is why my eyes were inexorably drawn to a jar of ras el hanout on the spice rack at my local Kroger.  I swear for the last two seasons I've seen Top Chef contestants using the Moroccan spice blend in everything from lamb stews to panna cotta.

I couldn't resist.  I bought the jar without the faintest idea of what I would do with it.

Anyway, as soon as I opened the jar and took a whiff, I knew I'd made a good choice.  And I had an inkling of how I would use the spice (with lentils and potatoes).  I served this easy, savory stew with warmed naan.

Lentils with Ras el Hanout

1/2 c. diced onion
1/2 c. diced celery
1 Tbs. olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and cut into half moons
2 pounds new potatoes, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 c. lentils
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock (or water with appropriate number of bullion cubes)
4 tsp. ras el hanout spice blend
1 tsp. salt

Saute celery and onion in the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat for about 10 minutes.  Add all remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium (or a bit below) and simmer covered for 35-40 minutes (until lentils are tender).

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Farmer's Market Stew

This last week, Mr. Wendy and I have been traveling through the Midwest visiting my family.  Because we are generally the pickiest eaters in the room (thanks to our aversion to meat), we often do a fair share of the cooking when we’re houseguests.  This trip was no exception.  We made my grandma some simple bean tacos and a tomato and basil pasta.  We made my mom the polenta pie I posted two weeks ago. But my favorite creation of the trip was the lentil/potato/corn stew we made for my sister.

My wonderful little sister moved from New York to Detroit about a year ago, and this was our first visit to her new home.  We got to enjoy the spectacular view from her loft in the Cass Corridor, and she graciously lent us her car during the days (while she was off training new corps members for Teach for America) so we could explore the city.

One of our stops on our first day was Detroit’s Eastern Market:  a huge farmer’s market, brimming with local produce and interesting made-in-Michigan delicacies.  We broke a $20 and walked away with cherries, blueberries, lentils, tomatoes, corn on the cob, baby potatoes, parsley, thyme, an onion … and change.  Awesome.

We remembered that Sister had garlic, olive oil, and vegetable broth in her pantry; we knew the location of a good bakery a block from her house; and a plan emerged.

By the time she arrived home from work, the loft was rich with the scent of the simmering soup.  The potatoes and lentils formed a hearty base, but the sweet corn—cut straight from the cob, juicy tomatoes, and bright green herbal notes made this a perfect late summer soup.  Throw in a loaf of fresh sour dough bread and some ice-cold beers, and we had a flavorful peasant-like meal around which to swap stories and catch up.

Farmer's Market Stew

1 c lentils
1 ½ c onion
5 c diced potatoes
3 cloves garlic
3 TBSP olive oil
3 cups corn (4 ears)
4 c vegetable broth
6 campari-sized tomatoes (about 2 cups)
1 c. chopped parsley
1-2 Tbs. fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot.  Add the onion and garlic and cook over medium-low until the onion is quite soft.  Add the broth, potatoes, and lentils.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes (until the lentils are tender); if the liquid gets too low, add a little water.  Add the corn, tomatoes, and herbs, and simmer another 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and keep hot until ready to serve.


Wendy is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook.