From our food contributor, Diana Bauman.
Am I ever excited to talk lentils today! Being that I’m part Spanish, lentils are a staple in my home. My mother is from Sevilla, Spain. I’ve spent many summers abroad visiting my family there and one meal that I could never get enough of was lentejas con chorizo, lentils with Spanish chorizo sausage. Lentils, to a Spaniard, is just as comforting as a warm bowl of homemade mac and cheese is to an American. The great thing about lentil dishes is that kids love it just as much as adults. Whenever I prepare lentejitas, as I call it, my kids gobble it up and I’m sure yours will to.
Lentils are legumes (beans) that are quick and easy to make. They readily absorb flavors from other foods and spices making them a bean that many people enjoy to eat. Lentils also pack a healthy punch. They contain high levels of soluble fiber which lowers cholesterol and helps in reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke. Also, because it contains so much soluble fiber it stabilizes your blood sugar levels making this a great food for diabetics. Lentils are also a good source of folate and magnesium which contributes to heart health. They’re also a good source of B vitamins. It’s been found that many people with depression, stress, and anxiety have low levels of B vitamins and magnesium. Adding lentils to your diet can help alleviate physical symptoms and lift your spirits. Let’s not forget, lentils are also packed with protein! Out of all the legumes and nuts, they contain the third-highest level of protein.
So, if you were ever squeamish to try lentils, all of these nutritional benefits should make them a staple in your home.
My favorite way to prepare lentils is by making them in a stew. The greatest thing about a lentil stew is that all you have to do is place all of your ingredients in a pot, add water, and cook. It couldn’t be easier. When making a lentil stew, you can make it with any vegetable that happens to be in season.
From zucchini, carrots, and dark leafy greens…
to pumpkin, turnips, and rutabaga.
In Spain, the most comforting way to eat lentil stew is by adding Spanish chorizo sausage (not to be mistaken for Mexican, uncured, chorizo). This cured meat gives the stew depth in flavor and adds a bit of piquant by the Spanish paprika (pimenton) seasonings within it. Both the chorizo and Spanish pimenton used to be difficult to source in the United States but is now readily available in most specialty stores. If you can’t find the sausage, no worries, It tastes just as good by adding any other type of sausage including bacon or even by omitting the meat all together.
Today, I’m going to share with you the lentil stew recipe I typically make at home. I usually add chorizo sausage, a bit of rice, potatoes, and dark leafy greens.
It’s simple to prepare, comforting, and the entire family enjoys it. I hope yours will as well.
A Traditional Spanish Lentil and Chorizo Stew
Author: Diana Bauman
Recipe type: Dinner
- 1 cup dried lentils
- Spanish Chorizo Sausage, sliced in coins (about 1½ cups)
- ½ green pepper, roughly chopped
- ½ white onion, roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, whole and smashed
- 2 roma tomatoes, whole
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tbls extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Spanish paprika, pimenton
- 3 russet potatoes, roughly chopped
- ½ cup white Basmati rice
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 large handfuls dark leafy greens
- In a large pot or dutch oven, add the lentils, chorizo sausage, green peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and bay leaves. Cover all the ingredients with water so that it covers them by 1-2 inches.
- Add the olive oil then bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes add the potatoes, rice, and salt and simmer for an additional 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the rice is cooked through.
- As soon as all the ingredients are cooked through, add the dark leafy greens and serve right away.
Does your family enjoy eating lentils? What’s your favorite way to prepare them?