Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lentil Stew

It's so easy to get in a rut. Night after night look down at dinner and see meat, a vegetable and a starch. Every now and then I have to wrestle free and muscle in a dish that breaks the ho-hum mold. Tonight I surfed through the pantry and came across a bag of Umbrian lentils. Nutty, buttery and delicious they are a produce specialty (and chef's favorite) from central Italy.
Thinking back to a recipe from Mozza chef Matt Molina I cooked them slowly for an almost creamy thick stew.
I rendered the fat from a handful of chopped prosciutto in a warm sauce and then added in finely chopped garlic (2 cloves), carrot (1 large), onion (1 medium), and -- because I had them -- Padrón peppers (3). The vegetable sautéed for about 8 minutes. I raised the heat to high and stirred in about 1 TB tomato paste and cooked about 1 minute.Next, following Molina's method I stirred in 1/2 pound of lentils and 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth. The lentils simmered and cooked about 25 minutes. I added in another cup of broth and let them cook another 10. One last 1/2 cup of broth and 10 minutes of simmering created a kind of creamy sauce around the lentils which I seasoned with salt and pepper.
To serve I fried a fresh egg in a slick of olive oil, scattered arugula and feta cheese over the lentils and drizzled everything with a touch of balsamic vinegar.
Dinner in a bowl. No meat, no sides, no starch, no rut.

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