Lentil soups are known for being both comforting and simple. These terms describe this lentil stew recipe as well. That is until you add the final additions. Roasted garlic and balsamic vinaigrette transform plain-Jane legumes into a dinner party-worthy dish. As my mother would say “hold the phone”! This is my new favorite lentil recipe.
This recipe is from ‘Anti-Inflammatory Eating Made Easy’ by Michelle Babb, MS, RD, CD. This is a powerful book for anyone with systemic inflammation -which is pretty much everyone to some degree. Whether you are trying to reverse a diagnosed inflammatory condition, wanting to pursue a 21-Day Cleanse or simply wanting to educate yourself about the body’s inflammatory process and food choices to help manage it –this book belongs in your library. The book features 75 flavorful recipes, enticing full-color photos, multiple food plan options and Michelle’s skillful translation of nutritional science. The result is a very accessible and empowering framework for better health. As per the title, Michelle truly does make anti-inflammatory eating easy.
This recipe inspired me to start integrating two ingredients into my cooking more regularly. First, red lentils. For some reason, I have no idea why, I had only previously cooked with green lentils. According to Michelle, with red lentils there is no need for soaking, they require less cooking time and when cooked, have the soft consistency of mashed potatoes. Sold! This recipe also prompted me to start cooking more often with leeks, the oft-forgotten, sweet cousin of the onion. The recipe below is only slightly revised from the book version, adding extra carrots and celery and the option of chicken broth.
LENTIL AND SPINACH STEW WITH ROASTED GARLIC
From ‘Anti-Inflammatory Eating Made Easy‘ by Michelle Babb, MS, RD, CDN
Yield: 6 servings
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 leeks (white and light green parts), rinsed and sliced into half moons*
- 1-3 carrots diced
- 1 or 2 stalks celery diced
- 3 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed and drained
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
- 1 1/2 cups chopped spinach
- 3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- For step-by-step directions, see ‘How to Clean Leeks’.
DIRECTIONS FOR ROASTED GARLIC:
- Pre-heat oven to 350º F.
- Slice the top off each head of garlic to allow steam to escape from each clove.
- Place cloves on a pieces of aluminum foil and drizzle the top with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, then wrap the foil around the garlic.
- Place foil-wrapped garlic into oven, toaster-oven or on a grill and let cook for 45 – 60 minutes. Let cool.
DIRECTIONS FOR THE LENTIL STEW:
- While the garlic is roasting, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.
- Add the leeks, carrot and celery and sauté until the leeks are translucent and the carrot and celery soften.
- Add the broth, water, lentils, bay leaves and thyme.
- Reduce the heat until the liquid is simmering.
- Stir occasionally for 40-50 minutes until the stew reaches your desired consistency.
- Discard the bay leaves.
- Add the roasted garlic cloves to the stew, pinching the base of the cloves until each slips out of its skin.
- Add the spinach and balsamic vinegar and stir to blend them into the stew.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve.
- Leeks: An excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin phenolic flavonoid antioxidants. These compounds protect eyes from age-related macular disease by filtering harmful ultra-violet rays. Sunscreen for your eyes!
- Lentils: Stand out for their high protein and fiber content. Each cup of cooked lentils provides about 18 grams of protein and about 16 grams of fiber. They are a very good source of copper, phosphorus, and manganese and are a good source of iron, protein, vitamin B1, pantothenic acid, zinc, potassium, and vitamin B6. Lentils contain purines. So, individuals with gout, uric acid, kidney stones, or a new organ transplant may want to talk with their doctor regarding lentil consumption.