Saturday, February 05, 2011

Simple Hearty Lentil Stew with Potatoes and Spinach

I have been realizing that I tend to post on here about the more complicated (and usually less healthy) recipes that I make, but I don't always put up the day-to-day staples that we eat all the time.  I am a huge proponent of eating solid, healthy meals on a regular basis which don't take hours of prep time, so I am going to make more of an effort to share some of the simpler meals we eat, too.  These recipes aren't necessarily sexy or exciting, but they are simpler to prepare and often create plenty of leftovers that you can eat in a pinch when you just don't feel like cooking at all... I keep a few servings in the fridge but often stash most or all of the leftovers in the freezer to eat more than a few days later.  I hope that these more basic types of recipes won't be totally boring to folks.  These lentils fit solidly in the basics category - the recipe is flexible to what you happen to have on hand, they cook up pretty quickly and with minimal prep and make a big batch which keeps well.  They are hearty and delicious and can stand on their own or are great served with bread, brown rice, or a side of salad or veggies.

On a related note, I realized that I have a lot of gluten-free and vegan recipes up here, not because I purposefully follow either of those diets but I guess just because I love to cook beans and lentils and other things that happen to fit in those two categories.  I have gone back and added gluten-free and vegan tags to past posts, so if you are looking for recipes in those categories feel free to poke around!

A note on the bowl the soup is in - this is a pot that I made after college when I was playing around more with surface decoration.  I have made a number of pots with this kind of line decoration around the middle, made by holding a textured or pointed object on the surface of the pot while turning the wheel.  In this case I used a plastic fork and slowly moved it up and down to give the design some movement - I like how it turned out!  This bowl is a bit on the small side but still a much-used and well-loved one in our house.

Hearty Lentil Stew with Potatoes and Spinach
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 lb bag lentils, rinsed/looked over to make sure no foreign objects
  • 6-8 cups water
  • 2 medium potatoes, chopped
  • box of frozen spinach, defrosted if possible (or bunch of fresh spinach, rinsed, if you prefer/have on hand - or this works well with Kale as well)
  • salt/pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a medium to large pot, add onions and saute for 3-5 minutes on medium-high heat, until onions begin to brown.  Add herbs (note - you could substitute 2 teaspoons of an herb mix such as italian herbs or herbes de provence if you prefer), and saute for another 1 minute.  Add the lentils and water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  You can chop the potatoes while the lentils simmer; I left the skins on but you could peel if you prefer.  Add potatoes when chopped and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the spinach and raise heat to return to a simmer, then lower heat again and cook until lentils are fully cooked, another 10-15 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Note: you could cook this in a slow-cooker if you started the onions/herbs on the stovetop and then transferred to the slow-cooker, but it would take significantly longer to cook.  It would probably turn out well if left to cook all day on low, however (maybe add spinach in the last hour to half hour).

So... what are your favorite kinds of basic everyday meals?  And do you enjoy my little pottery updates or are they distracting from the recipes?


  1. Yum. I love lentils, but I don't cook them often enough. My favorite every day meals? Vegetable stews. I throw in whatever we have in the garden and the pantry, usually ending with a dash of balsamic vinegar and a side of home-baked bread. The pottery updates are awesome too! :)

  2. I like the addition of pottery to your posts. My favorite meals are saucy meats with some yummy kale. I can not get enough of kale lately and I always hated it when it was overcooked and mushy.


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