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:
- 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.
- Preheat the oven to 325 F.
- 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.
- Add the celery and sauté another 5 minutes or so, until softened.
- Add the garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, sage, mustard, cumin and fennel and stir a minute or two, until fragrant.
- Deglaze the pot with the wine and then add the beets, drained lentils, broth, tomato sauce and salt. Stir to mix.
- 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.
- 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.