By Erica Leibrandt
Lentils and I have a decades long love affair, beginning with my first taste of Dal in the legendary Indian restaurant Moti Mahal, on an sub-arctic December day (much like this day) back in college in Chicago.
Something about that warming vegetarian broth, its unassuming richness and depth, and the fact that is clearly originated in a far away country, immediately enchanted me. After I learned how to cook vegan food, of course, I realized that lentils are a great dietary staple, high in fiber and protein, with a great umami meatiness that takes well to just about any flavor profile.
For many years I played around with lentil balls, loafs, soups and stews, and what follows is the most frequently requested and (I believe) yummy of my concoctions.
Exotic Moroccan Lentil Stew
You will need:
2 cups red lentils (these are faster cooking than brown lentils.)
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
8-10 cups vegetable broth
1 cup dry white wine
1 tbl. olive oil
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups sweet potato, peeled and cubed
½ cup raisins, any kind
4 tsp. smoked paprika
4 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 bay leaves
salt and freshly cracked pepper taste
Fresh cilantro (for garnish)
Heat oil in a large soup pot. Lower heat and sauté celery, onion, carrot and garlic until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add all spices (except bay leaves) and cook 1 more minute, stirring frequently. Add lentils, broth, wine and bay leaves, bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer 10 minutes.
Add sweet potatoes and raisins, bring back to boil, lower to simmer and cook 15 more minutes, or until both sweet potatoes and lentils are soft. Add chickpeas and heat through. Adjust seasonings and add more broth or water if needed to make stew desired consistency.
Serve in big bowls over either cous cous or cauliflower rice, topped generously with freshly snipped cilantro.
Erica Leibrandt is a 200 hour RYT, level 2 Reiki practitioner and a master’s student in clinical counseling at Northwestern University. Mother to six, Erica is partial to vegan food, good scotch and is frequently able to win staring contests with dogs. Her writing credits include The Sun Magazine, Yoga Journal and Elephant Journal, where she was a featured writer with over 500 articles. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Editor: Dana Gornall