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 canceled 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 forego 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 65: 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.
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