Monday, November 7, 2011

(W)Holy Lentils!

This Southern Mama turned Israeli Ima has been experimenting with Lentils quite a bit lately! Why? Well, for one, they are super healthy, high in protein, fiber, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, folic acid, iron, and the most intestines-friendly legume according to this website. Also, since they are a traditional Middle Eastern/Israeli/Jewish food, they are readily available and affordable... not to mention very yummy.

Lentils actually appear in the bible in several places. They were in the stew that Jacob fed Esau in exchange for his birthright(Gen 25:34), David and his men ate them while hiding from Saul (2 Sam 17:27-29, 2 Sam 23:11), and they were part of the bread recipe the Lord gave to Ezekiel (Eze 4:9).

Lentils are a part of Israeli culture that I have been enjoying... and my family is reaping the benefits of a few creative endeavors. I've found that Lentils make a good addition to almost any rice dish, tuna salad, and of course... soups and stews!

After googling around web and comparing recipes, and taking inventory of what was in the fridge, I created quite a nice little soup. It was yummy enough that I was inspired to make a little stew the next week!

For the soup, this is what I came up with:

Ingredients:

• 4 cups (approximately) homemade chicken stock (seasoned with thyme, oregano, basil, bay leaf, onion, garlic, salt and pepper, carrots and celery)
• 2 cups water
• 1 onion, chopped
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 2 carrots, diced
• 1 large potato, diced
• 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
• 1 cups dry lentils
• 1/2 cup spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced
• salt to taste
• ground black pepper to taste
• 1/2 tsp cumin


Directions

1. In a large soup pot, add chicken broth, olive oil onions, carrots, garlic, and potato. Stirring regularly.
2. Stir in lentils, and add water and tomatoes and cummin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve stir in spinach, and cook until it wilts. Season to taste with salt (and maybe a little more cummin!)

***


Now that one was good, but the stew was birthright worthy indeed! It was thick and harty... exactly what you'd want to eat on a cold rainy Shabbat, cuddled up on the couch with your love and a movie! I hope this one will be a regular enough meal in our home that Aviel will think of it as comfort food. Here's how I made what we are now officially calling "Birthright Stew":

Ingredients:

• 4 cups (approximately) homemade lamb stock (seasoned with rosemary, onion, garlic, salt and pepper, carrots)
• 2 cups water
• 1/2 lb ground beef
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1 garlic clove
• 2 carrots, diced
• 1 large potato, diced
• 3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
• 3 tbsp tomato puree
• 1 cup dry lentils
• 1/4 cup rice
• 1 tbsp rosemary
• 1 tsp thyme
• 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
• salt to taste
• ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

1. In a large soup bowl, saute diced onion in olive oil with salt and pepper. Add ground beef, chopped garlic clove, seasoning with a little rosemary, salt and pepper to taste. Cook the beef through.
2. Add lamb stock, water, tomato puree, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, ginger, rice and lentils. Bring to boil, then allow to simmer until lentils plump up. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

***

If any of you try one of these, let me know how it turns out! As we say in Israel, Bete'Avon (bon appetite)!


Related Posts:
Aviel's First Bike
Fruit of the Season
Making Grits in Israel