The Cabbage Chronicles: Black Lentil Stew

As per the promise to my Mother, another recipe featuring mammoth amounts of cabbage – helping keep her repertoire interesting through COVID lock-down in Côte-St-Luc, Québec. We made it out here in St-Marc-de-Figuery, Abitibi (translation: Middle-of-Nowhere, Québec) with smashing results and no leftovers!

Yield: 4 main course portions, 8 as a side

What you need:

  • 3/4 cup black beluga lentil (or any other whole lentil), soaked 4-6 hours in lots of fresh water to cover and then drained
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and cut into wedges or large dice
  • 1 medium-large red beet, peeled and cut into wedges or large dice
  • 4 cups red cabbage cut into roughly 1” cubes
  • olive oil, as much as you want to sautée the veggies, a minimum is about a teaspon but if you’re feeling decadent, feel free to increase thant substantially and go hit the tablespoon or two
  • 1/4 teaspoon + a pinch of caraway seeds (or if caraway isn’t your think, then 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seed or black mustard seed works instead)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seed (or a good heaping tablespoon of the powder)
  • 3 allspice berries (or about 1/8 teaspoon of the powder)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups water or unsalted vegetable stock
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice (1/2 a small lemon)
  • freshly ground black pepper (optional)

What you do:

  1. Heat a thick-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium flame. When hot, add the oil and caraway seeds. Let the seeds sizzle a few seconds and then add the onions. Sautée, turning the heat down a bit as required, until the onions are soft and translucent and beginning to brown (8-10 minutes).
  2. While the onions are doing their thing, grind the coriander seeds and allspice berries together in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle for the really patient ones (or mix the powders together in a small bowl). Set aside.
  3. Add the beet and stir and fry some more, until the sugars start to want to stick to the bottom, 5 minutes or so.
  4. Now add the cabbage. Stir and fry another 5-8 minutes.
  5. Add the spice powder and stir to mix throughout. Follow it up with the drained lentils. Mix them in. Finish with the water and bay leaves. Push the lentils down under the surface of the water as best you can.
  6. Turn the heat up and bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat down to medium low, and simmer until the lentils and cabbage are cooked, 30-45 minutes depending on how vigorous your simmer is.
  7. When the lentils are done, remove the cover and salt to desired level. Also add the lemon juice. Stir well, cover again and let simmer on low for another 10-15 minutes.
  8. Serve, adding freshly ground pepper to each serving if desired. Fresh parsley, sauerkraut and/or toasted sunflower seeds also make very nice garnishes for the stew.

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