6. April 2013

Braised Lentils with Oven-Roasted Potatoes

The recipe I made for you today might seem to be more appropriate for fall than for spring. But since we are having quite the temperature lows in Germany and spring still isn’t in sight, I am really craving hearty and filling foods. That is lentils.
Lentils are a great vegetarian source of protein, magnesium, iron and calcium. But as always the most important thing is the taste. You wouldn’t eat anything healthy if it wasn’t delicious, too, would you?
Since childhood my taste buds have changed quite lot. I would not say that I grew up eating only junk food and I was one of those “strange” kids that didn’t even like sweets or sodas. I ate spinach and drank unsweetened teas all day with delight. Jikes.
Of course wasn’t a vegetarian back than and most of the really healthy things mother earth has to offer remained untouched and unvalued. Over the last ten years since I am vegetarian, my taste buds have constantly changed into a , what I think, positive direction.
Now I love (almost) everything that is healthy: Say vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, plant milks. I also love chocolate and cakes, but I don’t mind having a cake that has been made with whole spelt flours, nuts and natural sweeteners.

I am sad to confess that lentils haven’t been part of my weekly menu for a long time.
One of my grandmothers used to make a lentil stew when I was younger. I still remember her standing in front of her old gas stove stirring this thick, gray, lentil stew, studded with large pieces of “Fleischwurst” (pork sausage). It is amazing how much the smell and taste of her stew has been stamped into my memory. I loved her stew, to say the least, although it was totally different from the food my Mum used to cook. I guess, if somebody else had served me that stew I would never have eaten it. But maybe because it was that different, I always wanted her to cook it for me when I stayed at her house for lunch. This lentil stew was actually the only dish she has ever cooked for me.
When I grew older and my grandmother passed away, there hasn’t been anything comparable to her lentil stew in my life.
The dish I made today isn’t comparable to it , either. But her stew was probably the first lentil dish I ever had and influenced the feelings I now have towards lentils.
Lentils are a comfort food for me. They make me all peaceful and warm inside. And I think of my grandmother.
Since my taste has changed and I am more health conscious than I have been when I was younger, I won’t recreate the dish of my grandmother. She was quite the old-fashioned cook and I know that she used quite the amount of flour and butter to thicken it.
I, in comparison, try to cook as light and natural as I possibly can, to retain the individual flavors of every ingredients. Additionally, I don’t want to mess up my memories. Some things have to remain untouched.

The recipe:

Those braised lentils make a hearty but light dish that does not weigh you down. I highly recommend using the celery leaves, too, because they give great flavor and taste delicious when cooked. I even did not mind removing the sprigs. Throw it all into the pot!
If you seek more spring related freshness, drizzle the lentils with a few teaspoons of lemon juice and olive oil. But that is up to you. I also added parsley on top because I love its combination with lentils.
I served the dish alongside some oven-baked potato wedges because I craved them.
But I could also imagine them to be great with gnocchi, roasted pumpkin or sweet potatoes.

Braised Lentils with Oven-Roasted Potatoes

(Serves 3)


650g potatoes, sliced into wedges
1 Tbsp olive oil
Fleur de Sel, black pepper


Knob coconut oil
2 medium carrots, cubed
½ sweet onion, minced
2 cellery stalks (plus leaves), cubed
1 cup (230g) black /puy lentils
2 ½ cups (625ml) water
2 sprigs of thyme
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 bay leaf
Black pepper to taste
1 tsp Fleur de Sel

Fresh parsley, chopped

2 Tbsp lemon juice mixed with 2 Tbsp olive oil for drizzeling (optional)

Wash potatoes and peel if you like. Cut into wedges and put into a bowl. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.
Place on a lined baking sheet and bake at 175°C (350°F) for 30-40 minutes or until crisp and golden.

In a wide pot heat coconut oil and cook onions, carrots and celery for a few minutes on medium heat. Wash lentils and add to pot together with the other ingredients, except the salt. Salt may change the cooking time of the lentils, so I recommend to season the lentils at the end of the cooking time.
Bring lentils to a simmer and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes or until lentils are soft, but not mushy.
Remove Garlic clove, bay leaf and thyme sprigs befor serving.

Serve the lentils hot alongside the potato wedges. Drizzle with lemon-olive oil mix and fresh parsley.

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