It’s hard to imagine a food more humble than the lentil. It’s tiny, it’s (usually) brown, and it doesn’t exactly have what you’d call a bold flavor. But look a little bit further and those little lentils are pretty mighty. With 18 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber in a one cup serving, they’re super filling, and they’re also high in folate (important if you’re pregnant!), manganese, and iron.
Even if you eat meat, it’s a good idea to skip it a few meals a week and opt for lentils as your protein instead. Lentils are an alkalizing source of protein—this helps balance your body’s pH, which encourages your gut bacteria to flourish and multiply. And with a balanced digestive tract, you’ll be able to digest your food better and absorb more nutrients. (As a bonus, if you’re trying to save money on groceries, eating lentils a few times a week will help with your food budget too.)
This comforting lentil stew is made with with in-season root vegetables, but the beauty of this recipe is that you can customize it with your favorite herbs, spices, and vegetables. Try stirring in spinach and letting it wilt just before serving; sautéing mushrooms with the onion will add some meatiness and throwing in a sprig of thyme or rosemary will infuse the stew with herbal flavor.
Simple Lentil Stew
Yield 2 servings
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 parsnip, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- ½ cup dried brown or green lentils, rinsed
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Fresh parsley, to garnish
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion. Sauté until tender, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add the carrot, parsnip and bay leaf. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is a browned and the carrots and parsnip begin to soften.
- Add ¼ cup of broth and scrape browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add remaining broth and bring to a simmer. Stir in lentils and cook for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until soft. Season with sea salt.