greek stewed lentils
Lentils are so underrated. Don't deny it - you see them sitting there in the supermarket, dusty little morsels in a plastic bag, and you walk on by. You shouldn't. You should buy them. Why? Because they are delicious, easy to cook and so good for you. Lentil dishes are common in so many cultures and make up some of the best, peasant style, simple meals. This particular lentil stew, full of vegetables and herbs, though it is a Greek recipe, is not a dish you'll find in a Greek restaurant. This is real, rustic Greek home food.
This recipe was my husband's grandmother's. She passed it down to my mother in law. My mother in law and sister in law passed it down to me. I've added wine and crushed red pepper flakes to my version of the recipe but, otherwise, it's made exactly the way it was taught to me. It is seasoned with red wine vinegar right at the end, giving it a savoury and bright flavour.
I like to serve this dish with rice. Lentils and rice actually make up a complete protein which means that, combined, they contain all of the essential amino acids humans need, making this a perfect meal for vegetarians. But, if you wanted to, you could eat it with fish, bread or nothing at all.
2 tbsp olive oil + more for drizzling at the end
1 cup green lentils - rinsed and picked over
1 carrot - peeled and diced
1 stalk celery - diced
1 onion - minced
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 can diced tomatoes
2-3 stalks fresh thyme
1 stalk fresh oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red chilli flakes
1/2 cup dry red or white wine
chicken stock or water as needed
2-3 tbsp parsley - minced
Red Wine vinegar to taste
salt and pepper to taste
feta cheese to taste
1. place lentils in a small pot and cover with 2-3 inches of water. boil for 10 minutes. discard water. set aside.
2. in a heavy bottomed pot, add olive oil and heat. add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, chilli flakes, thyme and oregano. cook over a medium heat until vegetables are tender.
3. add lentils to the pot and stir to coat. add canned tomatoes, wine and season with salt and pepper. bring to a boil and cook for 2-3 minutes or until alcohol has evaporated.
4. cover with water or stock and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender but not mushy and most of the liquid has been absorbed- approx 35 minutes. add more water or stock as necessary - the pot should never be dry.
5. remove from heat and adjust salt and pepper to your taste. season with red wine vinegar - the amount depends on how you want it to taste. I usually use 1 - 1.5 tbsp but you can start with less and add slowly until you reach a flavour you like.
6. stir in parsley.
7. garnish each bowl with feta, drizzle with olive oil and serve.