Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Lentil and Pumpkin stew

1 large garlic head, plus 4 minced garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 medium sized onions, 1 cut in half, 1 finely chopped
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 bay leaf
1&1/2 cups green or brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
8-9 cups water or chicken broth, or more as needed
2 Italian (frying) peppers, cored seeded and chopped
2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 pound butternut squash or pumpkin cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1/2 tsp sweet or smoked paprika
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
1 medium sized pinch of saffron
2tbsp sherry vinegar, or good quality red wine vinegar

Preheat to 400f

Cut the top off the head of garlic, and discard it. Brush the cut edge with olive oil, place in a small baking dish and bake until soft, 25-30 minutes. When the garlic is cool enough to handle, place it in a double layer of cheese cloth, along with onion halves, thyme and bay leaf, and tie the cloth shut.

Place the lentils in a pot with 8 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Skin any foam off the surface, then add the cheesecloth bag, 1tbsp of olive oil, half of the Italian peppers, and half the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 20 min. Add the pumpkin and cook about 20 more minutes, till it is tender.

Meanwhile, heat 2tbsp oil in a pan and add onion, and the remaining Italian pepper, and cook 5-7 minutes, till soft but not browned. Add the paprika, and the remaining tomato and cook about 5 more minutes. Add the onion mixture to the lentils. If it’s too thick add more water. Season to taste and cook for another 10 minutes or so.

Remove the cheesecloth bag, and discard all but the garlic head. Squeeze the flesh from the garlic and mash it up. Place the raw minced garlic and the parsley and saffron with a little pinch of salt into a mortar. Mash to a paste, and add the roasted garlic paste. Mash together with 2 tbsp very hot water. Let sit 2-3 minutes, then stir into the lentils. Add the vinegar and season with salt pepper and more vinegar to taste.

This was from The New Spanish Table.

In the end this was more of a soup then a stew. It was an amazing soup. I loved it. It made my house smell wonderful when it was cooking, it was filling and satisfying, and it tasted so good. I think it must have been the combination of the smoked paprika, and the pre roasted garlic, but it had a really amazing depth of flavor. It actually tasted as if it had chorizo in it, even though it was totally vegan.

I'm a big fan.

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