Monday, July 11, 2011

Spanish Lentil Stew Potaje de Lenteja

This stew brings in that warm and fuzzy feeling. It’s the perfect meal (for me, at least!) that works when you don’t know what to eat and want something light and healthy, yet wholesome and tasty. 
Potaje is Spanish for stew and Lenteja is Spanish for lentils. These lentils are different to the typical Indian lentils or daals, They are green and Spanish in origin, though Italian lentils will be a substitute too. The lentils are available downtown atDespaña
This particular dish is native to the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain (or rather, Morocco). Traditionally, the stew has pork chops or chorizo in the stew, but I made it without for a vegetarian version last night. This is a combination of my mother-in-law’s recipe (and you know that those recipes are always fabulous!) and my tweaks to it. 

I like to season each layer of the food as I cook, so when I say ‘salt, to taste’ add salt for just that layer of food, keeping in mind what you seasoned before and what you are going to season. 

Serves 4
  1. 1.Soak 1/2 cup lentils overnight. 
  2. 2.Bring lentils to a boil uncovered with 2 cups water and salt, to taste.
  3. 3.While the lentils boil, prep:
    2 tomatoes in water in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 4 minutes, or until the skins can be easily removed. Let it cool for a few minutes and then peel the skin off and scoop out seeds.
    1/2 white onion, 2 cloves garlic, cut 1 sweet potato and 1 potato into bite-size pieces, 2 ears of corn in half and mince 1 tbsp parsley.
  4. 4.In a separate frying pan, heat 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil. Add onions and garlic and sauté until onions turn pinkish. Add salt, to taste and 1 tsp orange food coloring*, mix the coloring evenly and then add the stewed tomatoes and fry until the oil separates.
  5. 5.Add the tomato mixture, the chopped potatoes, corn and parsley to the lentil mixture with 1 small pinch of saffron, salt and pepper, to taste and 2 dried red chillies. Cover and let it cook on low for one hour. Add water if required. 
Serve with crusty white bread, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and chopped onionsif you like. 
* I use food coloring, but my mother-in-law likes to use turmeric instead as it is good for you, as opposed to the coloring which does nothing for you. It’s up to you, they both lend color to the dish.
This food coloring is also used generously in Paella.

Add pork chops or chorizo to flavor the potaje (stew) differently. This is a vegetarian version of the potaje.

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