How many of you are cutting back on your simple carbohydrates in favor of more complex carbohydrates? Good for you! This will be the recipe for you. As you may remember, I am not an advocate of totally excluding the potato in our diets, but I also cheer any recipe that can knock it out of the park in protein and fiber.
I had always eaten a more traditional beef stew. In fact, I had never eaten red lentils (gasp!). I was curious to try this stew for that reason, as well as for the health benefits. Here's what I learned:
Why red lentils: They cook quickly because they are small and split. They become soft when cooked so they work well for thickening soups and making purees.
Preparation: Spread lentils out in a single layer on a light kitchen towel or work surface. Discard any dirt, stones, or damaged lentils. Place them in a strainer and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Lentils do not require soaking before cooking.
Cooking: Use 1 1/2 cups of water or broth for every 1 cup of lentils. Do not add salt until lentils are cooked, as the salt can toughen them. Bring water or broth to boil and add lentils. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until tender (red lentils 25 minutes, green/brown lentils approximately 45 minutes).
Helpful hints: Taste test the lentils for desired tenderness 10 to 15 minutes before the end of cooking time. Overcooking results in a mushy texture.
When I Googled images, there were numerous variations of the finished product. My lentils were firm, yet tender, and they continued to absorb the beef broth after plated. The fennel's subtle flavor blended perfectly with the other ingredients. Its aroma reminded me of my favorite Chinese 5 Spice Powder, as fennel is one of the five spices. Hence, there can be beef stew without potatoes!
Recipe, Free Spirit Eater
1 lb. beef steak tips or stew meat
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 fennel bulb, sliced
3 cups low-sodium beef stock (or water)
1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (or red wine)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1. Season beef tips with salt and pepper.
2. In a large pot, add olive oil on high heat, sear meat, then remove from pot.
3. Reduce heat to medium. Add vegetables and saute until translucent.
4. Return meat to pot with veggies. Increase to high heat and cook about 1 minute.
5. Deglaze the pot with red wine vinegar (or red wine) and cook for about 2 minutes on high.
6. Add beef stock (or water), bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 1.5 hours on simmer.
7. In the last 10 minutes, add your fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Lentils (In a separate pot)
1/2 cup red lentils
3/4 cup beef stock (or water)
1/8 fennel, minced
1/2 medium shallot, minced
1/2 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Black pepper, to taste
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1. Add olive oil in a small pot over medium heat.
2. When hot, add fennel and shallots, cooking slowly until soft.
3. Add 3/4 cup beef stock (or water) and rosemary, bring to a boil, then add lentils while still boiling, until lentils are soft, about 25 minutes.
4. Season with black pepper to taste.