Posted by: Joan Spiller | May 17, 2011

Lentils with Quinoa – Recipe


Every now an’ then I see a recipe that makes me go “eww eww ewww“. Generally anything with “vegan mung bean tofu health delite” in the title is in this category .. So imagine how hard it is for me now to post a recipe with 2 similarly ‘evil’ foodie words in it ..

Lentils and Quinoa..

They’re both misunderstood, really. As is tofu, I know. Well – no .. tofu deserves it’s bad rap. It’s only good for carrying flavour and adding protein to one’s diet lol

Quinoa – pronounced Keenwah is supposed to be one of those ‘super’ foods. High in everything good, low in everything bad yadda yadda. I find it vaguely reminds me of corn, in taste. Some say it’s nutty. Either way, it isn’t nasty tasting. Like a lot of vegetarian “health” foods – it’s just kinda meh..

Just be warned: it’s covered in a bitter tasting compound (naturally produced) called saponin: soaking / rinsing will remove this. If in doubt, check the packet for instructions. Some are pre-washed!

Lentils – well .. they’re becoming less and less uncool as time passes. Historically, I haven’t actually found many people who can cook lentils the way I like ’em done.. but I’m a fussy tart as we all know 😉

My ‘lentil of choice’ is the plain ol’ brown one turned into a stew.. But I plan to experiment a bit (i.e.: be brave!) and try the others – watch for the experimentation updates as they come to hand!

I think for me, the “earthy” thing which everyone waxes on about when talking lentils is not actually that appealing. But to each their own!

And to make a very wholesome, healthy (and better yet: tasty!) “stew” to serve 2-4 people, you will need:

2c brown lentils – uncooked
1c quinoa – uncooked
3c stock
6c cold water

2 onions – diced
2 cloves garlic – crushed
1t ground coriander*
1t ground cumin
1 finely sliced red chilli
1t salt
1/2t pepper (I use white)

1 stalk celery – finely diced
1 carrot – finely diced
1 potato – optional – finely diced
2c shredded cabbage or silverbeet leaves (or any green veg is fine: I like peas in lentil stew too)

3T tomato paste
3T tomato sauce – confession: I use Watties .. I KNOW!

Soak the lentils in 6c cold water over night. Next day, rinse very very well, I’ve found stones in my lentils before so the rinse and eye-test is worth doing!

Soak the quinoa and rinse well to remove bitter taste. Set aside to drain. Cook the lentils in the stock for 15 minutes. Add the quinoa, and cook a further 5 minutes.

At the same time, saute the onions, garlic and spices incl salt & pepper in a little rice bran oil. I’d do this on low – med heat.

Crank up the heat and add the celery, carrot and potatoes then cook while stirring for a few minutes. This coats them with the spice mix before they go into the stew.

Drain 2/3 of the liquid off the lentil / quinoa mix. Add the veges and onions to the lentil mix, then the tomato paste and sauce. Stir in the cabbage.. Season to taste.

Now at this point you could biff it all into a crock pot / slow cooker and let it simmer for an hour or two .. or you could just leave it on the stove on low and stir now & then .. This is one of those dishes that gets better the longer it sits. So I often will make this the morning before I want to serve it and then reheat.

I serve this with creamy mashed potatoes and extra greens … and often I’ll wrap it in flaky pastry to boot 😉

PS According to some meat eating friends of mine, this tastes very much like savoury mince. I have no idea if it does or not but if you try it – let me know!

*I LOATHE coriander with a passion bordering on .. well, let’s just say I hate it. Even walking past a bunch of the vile stinking stuff in the market makes me gag.. But ground coriander (I think it’s the seeds, vs the leaves) is different, trust me..

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