Saturday, June 18, 2011

Recipe: Lentil and Rhubarb Stew

I was skeptical too, but stay with me, here.

We just started getting the summer's veggie boxes from a local farm, and whoa is it ever rhubarb season. If you don't know much about rhubarb, as I didn't, it's a weird thing. I ate a raw slice and can only describe it as a cross between celery and a Granny Smith apple, in both texture and flavor. Sweet but sour and quite fibrous.

But when you think rhubarb (if you do) you probably think pie, and as you may know, I'm off sugar this month. Let me tell you, it wasn't easy finding a savory rhubarb recipe. I got lucky and stumbled across this one, which I had to rejigger quite a bit to work with the ingredients I had. It sounds weird, but trust me, it's delicious. The rhubarb gives the stew the most fascinating citrus-y flavor, and though there's no fat added, it's very savory and rich-tasting. I entered the recipe into my nutrition app and it's less than 300 calories per serving (makes about six servings).

Anyhow, love this. No longer afraid to find rhubarb in my weekly farm box. Bring it on.

1. In a large pot, add these together:

6–8 stalks rhubarb, cleaned and chopped
2½ cups dry yellow lentils (or dry split peas), rinsed
chicken, chopped into stew-sized pieces (I used 2 boneless breasts, but I think 4 thighs would taste even better)
½ medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced

I tossed in the following spices, but feel free to use whatever Indian-type flavors you prefer…
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ginger
½ tsp. tumeric
½ tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. cumin seeds (can you tell I love cumin?)
lots of black pepper
[salt comes later]

2. With all that in the pot, add water, enough to cover everything by an inch…well, except the rhubarb, which floats. Bring to a low boil on medium-high heat, then cover and reduce to a simmer for 30–40 minutes, or until the lentils and rhubarb are soft. I stirred occasionally, though I'm not sure I was supposed to. It didn't seem to hurt anything.

3. It will look very unappetizing at first, but as the rhubarb stews it'll break down into sheer deliciousness, mingling with the lentils. When everything's softened, add a lot of salt and adjust the spices to your liking. I used too much water, but thickened it with a few shakes of corn starch.

4. Serve alone or over rice. Enjoy! Like I said, it tastes sooo much better than it sounds.

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