Winter, for real this time!

Winter, for real this time!

So, the winterweather has finally caught up with the Netherlands: at the moment it’s full on winterwonderland here. Well, the Dutch version of it anyway. That means 20 cm snow max, public transportation in a state of panic, and we all know it won’t be long until the crispy, clean white snow will turn into a grey, wet slush.
Nevertheless! It’s really winter now and that means my stew-cravings are rising up. Now I could have gone with some golden oldies from the dutch cuisine, but I was in the mood to try something new.

Dashing through the snow and the supermarket, I was pondering what exactly I was in the mood for. Cassoulet, perhaps? Beef stew? Chicken stew? Lamb stew? Vegetable stew?
Wandering aimlessly through the aisles, I suddenly bumped into the canned foods. And like it was meant to be, my eyes fell upon the one canned good that I’m always in the mood for: lentils.

You may remember the lentil soup recipe I posted in April: since then I haven’t really eaten them anymore, for no particular reason I can think of. Whatever reason, it’s been too long, so lentil-stew it was going to be!

I decided to go with a Spanish-influenced stew, so I thought of adding chipolata sausages (if you can find merguez, use those!) and a bold Spanish wine (tempranillo, or rioja. Mind you, not too young).
I wasn’t really sure how to make a lentil-stew, as I never have before, but as most (if not all) of my food, I decided to just wing it. And with the result I got, I’m glad I did

Look at those lovely lentils, simmering away..

Spanish-style lentil stew (serves 4, or 3 very hungry people)

  •  2 cans of 400 grams (14 oz.) blonde lentils, drained
  • 500 grams (18 oz.) passata di tomate
  • 1 or 2 (or 3) glasses of wine. Whatever’s left in the bottle can be served with the meal. Or during the making of the meal, of course
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 or 4 bay leaves
  • 100 grams (4 oz.) baconstrips, in thin slices
  • 4 chipolata or merguez suasages, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • a few stalks of (flat) parsley, leaves and stalks separately chopped
  • OPTIONAL: pepperoncini, for a little kick
  • and obviously some freshly ground salt and pepper

First, heat a little butter in a heavy-bottomed pan, and once melted, add the bacon strips and sausage pieces. Once browned, remove them with a skimmer onto a plate, so the wonderful flavours of the bacon and sausage will remain the butter.Next, add a little olive oil, and add the carrot, onion, parsley stalks, garlic and optional pepperoncini. Turn down the heat, put the lid on, and let the veggies sweat for a few minutes, until the onion is translucent and the carrot is soft. Add the lentils and coat them with oil.

Turn up the heat, and add 2/3 of the wine. Let evaporate for a little while, and add the passata. Stir well, until the then add the bay leaves, the remaining wine,and some salt and pepper.
Now transfer the pan to a simmerplate on your smallest burner on your lowest heat, and let simmer for approximately 45-60 minutes, until it has reached the desired consistency. Don’t forget to stir and taste every now and then!

Garnish with the chopped parsley leaves, accompany with some freshly baked (or warmed up) bread, and a simple green salad. Enjoy!

Succulent, hearty and soo good. Just what you need in these cold times!

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