Lentejas (lentil stew)

A traditional, cheap and comforting one-pot dish 😋

We’re having this quite often, now that the weather is starting to get dark and nasty.

I use a pressure cooker, but a deep pot with lid works very well too… although it will take longer to cook!

Ingredients

LegumeVegetablesFor flavour
* ~100 g lentils per person
I prefer green lentils as they don’t break and get too mushy. You can use brown ones which are the Spanish traditional ones too. Or use any other legume you like (soak them overnight if necessary).
Any sturdy vegetables that you have handy:
* Carrots, sliced in big chunks
* Potatoes, in biggish cubes
* Celery, in big chunks
* Leek, in thin slices
* Onion, sliced
* 3 cloves
* a bay leave
* Pine nuts…? I add them sometimes too!
You can use vegetable stock and a can of chopped tomatoes if going vegan/vegetarian, or:

A combination of…

* A piece of chorizo, sausage or cured meat about 4-5 cm long, without skin and cut into slices.
* A bone.
* Some thick cubes of old dry Spanish ham.
* Cubes of pancetta or bacon or similar.
* Or some fatty but bony meat.

Basically whatever you can get your hands on!

Extra option: an egg per person

Preparation

  1. Wash, peel, chop or dice vegetables as required, add them to the pot.
  2. Add the spices (clove and bay leaf).
  3. Add the meat or bones if using.
  4. For salt: if you are using a salted bone (e.g. from ham) do not add salt to the stew. Otherwise, add a tablespoon (or to your taste). You can always adjust later.
  5. Wash the lentils if necessary, then add the lentils.
  6. Stir and shake things around so they settle flat in the pot.
  7. Add a dash of olive oil.
  8. Add stock and the contents of the tomato can, if using
  9. Add water to cover everything and then more (the lentils will absorb the water), depending on how soupy you want the result to be. 2 cm of water over the level of the food should give an average soupy result.
    ⭐️ TIP ⭐️ : if you have one of those taps that gives you instant hot boiling water, use it in this step to save on cooking time! 👌🏼
  10. Optional: carefully wash eggs if you’re using them.

Now, the next steps depend on whether you use a pressure cooker or a normal pot:

If you’re using a pressure cooker:

  • If using eggs, place them on top of the rest of ingredients (they don’t need to be submerged under the water)
  • Put the lid on and lock it, select the “meat” setting (i.e. maximum pressure), bring to a boil and wait until the valve is up
  • Reduce the heat to low, and let it simmer for 25-30 minutes (depending on how soft you like your lentils to be).
  • Wait until the valve comes back down again before opening, so it finishes cooking with the residual heat.

If you’re using a normal pot:

  • Put the lid on, and bring to a boil.
  • Then let it simmer for as long as it needs, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are cooked (open and check occasionally)! This might take an hour or more, depending on the lentils, whether the water was hot from the start, etc.
  • If you’re using eggs, add them to the pot a little bit before the lentils have finished cooking (otherwise you’ll obliterate them)

To serve, remove and peel the eggs. Ladle hearty portions into deep dishes, and top with the peeled egg, sliced to your taste (this is your chance to use that egg slicer accessory you rarely use!).

You can store leftovers in hermetic containers in the fridge for a few days. Or even freeze them for maximum convenience! It’s easy to make double portions of this, so you get lunch for two or more days.

When you eat this, it’s mandatory to think of the wide expanses of flat cereal fields in the Castilian plateau and exclaim:

¡Ancha es Castilla!

Castille is huge
Crossing Castille on a road trip from East to West
Crossing Castille on a road trip from East to West

¡Buen provecho!

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