And so we descend into the seasonwhereitstoocoldtoleavethehouse. (I’m hoping if I say it quickly, maybe it won’t last as long.)
Hope springs eternal, as they say.
But, while I wait for Spring, it’s time for some heartier fare.
Soup is, of course, a great option. But, on those really cold days in store, I want something a little more substantial, and I think these lentils fit the bill perfectly.
They’re quick to make, taking about 45 minutes, but taste like they’ve been stewed for hours, thanks to the addition of bacon which imparts a smoky flavor and the tomato paste that lends an added depth. But, you could easily make them vegetarian, too, and wouldn’t lose much of the complexity. And, they’re economical, so if, after many days of being housebound from the cold, you crack and order in, you don’t even need to feel guilt.
As an added bonus, the lentils freeze well, so you can make a big batch and eat them throughout the winter. I’ll be doing just that.
Adapted from Ina Garten
The biggest change that I made to this recipe was the addition of bacon, which takes the lentils from a simple side to a main dish. I also use black beluga lentils. They’re a little smaller than the French lentils Garten calls for and the texture stays intact despite the stewing. French lentils would work perfectly here as well. Avoid plain lentils as they tend to get mealy.
4 strips bacon, diced
2 TBS olive oil
1/2 cups black beluga lentils
2 cups chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp thyme
2 TBS tomato paste
3 TBS red wine vinegar
Boil lentils 15 minutes, drain and set aside.
In a large frying pan, heat up the bacon, rendering out the fat. Strain the bacon from the fat and set it aside.
Add olive oil to the bacon fat and allow it to heat up. Saute the onions until they are translucent, then add in the garlic and thyme. Cook for 2 minutes. Then, add celery, onions, and tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes.
Add the lentils and chicken stock. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the stock has fully absorbed. Once the stock has fully absorbed, add the vinegar and simmer for 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with bacon before serving. Serve with rice.