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The Good Gift: Quinoa and Lentil Stew

As you probably know by now (because me and my sister won’t stop harping on about it), our family Christmas plans were cancelled this year. As upsetting as this was at the time, it worked out for the best. Going home to Canada in early January meant that I got to see friends and family that I otherwise wouldn’t have, and we ended up having a semblance of our traditional Christmas morning, anyway.

My sister made her usual Christmas morning muffins. There was no tree or Maddy Prior music in the background, but there was snow outside and a pile of gifts in the living room. My Mum does very well with gifts, particularly stocking stuffers. Don’t tell her this, but I’d quite happily forgo the gifts under the tree, so long as I could having a stocking filled by my Mum every Christmas for the rest of my life. I think this stems from the fact that in my family, stockings are opened after breakfast and gifts in the evening. When we were little, it was necessary to give us enough “fun stuff” in our stockings to keep the whining at a minimum for the rest of the day.

This year’s haul included a set of stainless steel pastry cutters, a pair of coral earrings, two vintage pyrex refrigerator dishes with glass lids (I promptly broke one of the lids and started to cry- yes, I’m four years old), vintage fabrics for all my crafting adventures, and a year’s supply of my favourite face wash, only available in Canada. Always appreciated. One unexpected addition was a cookbook I hadn’t seen before: Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood. Hmm. How did my mother know that I regularly buy quinoa, only to have it sit in the cupboard for weeks due to lack of inspiration, and eventually use as a boring (albeit healthy and delicious) alternative to plain rice?

This book is chock full of interesting quinoa recipes, and I couldn’t wait to start trying them out. I’d barely been home a day when I grabbed it this past weekend, opting to pull together this quick and simple stew. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to hit gold on my first try, but this soup is wonderful. Hearty and flavourful, but almost preposterously healthy. And that, during these cold post-indulgent days of January, really is a gift.

  • Quinoa and Lentil Stew
  • adapted from Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood
  • serves 4
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
    1 yellow onion, finely chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tsp. ground cumin
    1 tsp. ground coriander
    1/4 tsp. chili flakes
    1 Tbs. tomato paste
    2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
    1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed well
    1/2 cup red lentils
    5 cups vegetable stock
    1 red bell pepper, chopped
    juice of 1/2 a lemon
    1/3 cup finely chopped fresh coriander
    sea salt and black pepper, to taste
    Greek yogurt or sour cream, to serve (optional)
  • 1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot with a lid. Add the onion and garlic and cook gently for several minutes, until translucent. Stir in the spices, tomato paste and then the carrots, and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes.

    2. Add the quinoa, lentils and vegetable stock, and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes, until quinoa and lentils are tender. Add the chopped bell pepper and simmer, uncovered, for another 5 minutes.

    3. Remove stew from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and chopped coriander. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then season to taste and serve.


  1. have that book….LOVE that book!
    there’s an excellent muffin in that book somewhere

  2. Clare says:

    Wow, that image on the cover makes quinoa look so…….alluring. I love quinoa but I never know how to pronounce it – can anyone enlighten me?

  3. Ele says:

    Alana, I will have a look for that recipe. The only problem is, many of the baking recipes call for quinoa flour, which is difficult to find in London.

    Clare, that got me too when I first heard of this stuff. Quinoa is pronounced KEEN-wah.

  4. Melissa says:

    This sounds delightful, thanks for sharing! I tried the broccoli cupcakes you shared from a different blog a few weeks ago and I always enjoy your lovely photos.

  5. If you have a coffee grinder that has the capacity to grind really fine, you can make your own quinoa flour by simply grinding up the quinoa seeds. Just make sure you either buy pre-rinsed seeds or rinse your seeds and allow them to dry first. If it is not quite fine enough, you can always mix in a little more regular or whole wheat flour.

    I have the cookbook too and it is quite simply the best quinoa cookbook out there! I haven’t tried this recipe but after reading your post I am going to give it a try. Thanks for sharing! Wendy

  6. Clare says:

    Thanks Ele. It’s often on the menu at my local vegetarian cafe and I’ve never ordered it for fear of embarrassment. Problem solved.

  7. tansy says:

    January is use up all the things hanging about in food cupboards and drawers month . Quinoa flour is one the ingredients I have to use up. The flour that I have is from Infinity foods in Brighton. Any chance you could post the Muffin recipe ?

  8. Lorraine says:

    That sounds and looks lovely – and I have all of those ingredients in the kitchen. You’ve sorted next week’s work lunches for me :)

  9. Sally says:

    I’m putting that book on my wanted list. Poor you…I nearly cried about the Pyrex too! How on earth did you wait for presents all day as children…it’s an alien concept now that children should wait for anything!

  10. Sophie says:

    I do like a bit of quinoa but hadn’t heard of that book – thanks for the tip off Ele.

    This recipe on treehugger for a quinoa bake with cheese and spinach is one of my faves in case you need more inspiration:

    p.s I’m sad for your pyrex loss too!

  11. Ele says:

    Sally/Sophie- Yes, the pyrex still stings. But I’m hopeful: what use are all the hours I spend in vintage/collectible shops if I can’t, some day, somewhere, find a lonely glass pyrex lid that needs a home?

    Thanks for the recipe, Sophie- that looks SO good! Might make it with some kale this weekend.

  12. Leigha says:

    Yum! Adding this to my recipe bookmark.


  13. THB says:

    This is a terrific soup\stew. If you want to eat it as a soup you need to keep adding more stock. Either way it looks and tastes delicious.

  14. Lis says:

    I made this recipe last week and it was delicious! I made a few tweaks since I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand. Instead of tomato paste I used Harissa, instead of cilantro, I added a couple of finely chopped kale leaves, and I put in some small pieces of cauliflower for added veg. Amazing! And kept well for a few days in the fridge. Thanks for the recipe!