Baked Lentils in Red Wine

After being won over by last week’s beans and beets, I hankered for more of the same, but different.  Therefore once again we have legumes and the red root featured, but a different flavour profile – much more robust and wintery in nature.  The herbs and red wine are more heating and the long cooking time warms the house when the temperature is in the -25C range.  The recipe features a combinations of lentils to vary the texture and tooth, but feel free to use whatever you have on-hand – pretty much anything with a hull on it goes (stay away from dals: split and hulled lentils).

Yield: 14 cups (enough to freeze some for later, or feed a large crowd of hungry folks – it makes a great potluck dish!)

What you need:

  • 2/3 cup Dupuy (French) lentil
  • 2/3 cup brown lentil (sabut masoor)
  • 2/3 cup green (Laird) lentil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 onions, peeled and finely diced, 3 cups
  • 2 ribs of celery, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary needles
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage (rubbed rather than powdered if possible)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1/8 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1-1/2 cups robust red wine
  • 3 cups unsalted vegetable broth
  • 2 cups unsalted tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seed butter (optional, makes the stew much richer)
  • red beets, peeled and cut into 1/2” dice, measure 3 cups of the diced raw beets
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons salt (less if your broth is salted)

What you do:

  1. Soak the dry beans overnight or up to 24 hours in a generous amount of fresh water, enough to cover by 3’’-4’’.  All of them can be soaked together in the same bowl.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  3. Heat the olive oil over medium in a large Dutch oven or oven-safe cooking pot. Add the onions and sauté 25-30 minutes, until the onions are golden and reduced.  Turn down the heat as the onions cook so they don’t brown.
  4. Add the celery and sauté another 5 minutes or so, until softened.
  5. Add the garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, sage, mustard, cumin and fennel and stir a minute or two, until fragrant.
  6. Deglaze the pot with the wine and then add the beets, drained lentils, broth, tomato sauce and salt.  Stir to mix.
  7. Heat the liquid until it’s quite warm.  Put about 1/2 of a cup into a small bowl and whisk in the pumpkin seed butter if using.  Pour the butter-broth back into the pot of beans and beets and mix well.  Omit this step if not using the pumpkin seed butter.
  8. Bake, uncovered, for 3-1/2 hours until the liquid is reduced, the lentils cooked and the top crusted.  After 2+ hours of cooking, stir, check the liquid level and add a bit more if it looks like it might want to start sticking.
  9. Serve.


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