Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chickpea lentil slow-cooker stew

"Now you post a slow-cooker recipe?" I know, it’s late April (already, jeez) and the days are finally sunny and warmer again. But in KC we’re still waking up to some 40-degree mornings, so this isn’t completely out of place. I rarely use my slow cooker, which is really a shame. The problem is that since I work 9-5, in general I can only make recipes that cook for 8-10 hours, as opposed to shorter durations. Besides this limitation, I also don’t tend to plan far enough ahead to prep the night before. But when I spotted this recipe in a Whole Foods email newsletter, it sounded too perfect to pass up. Chickpeas and lentils with Indian flavors? It was made for me, I tell you. I removed the olives, added more spices, and bulked it up with potatoes and diced tomatoes to make it even better.

2T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 poblano peppers, diced
1T garlic paste (or 4 cloves garlic, minced)
2 tsp ginger paste (or minced fresh ginger)
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup red lentils (masoor dal)
14-oz. can diced tomatoes w/green chiles
28-oz. can tomato purée
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup plain soy yogurt
Salt to taste
Chopped cilantro, optional

The night before...
As you chop your vegetables, get some basmati rice going. (It's not a required accompaniment, since it is more of a stew than a curry, but I liked having some rice to go with it.) Let cool and refrigerate when done. Sauté the onion in the oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the peppers and sauté for another 2 minutes or so. Add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, cumin, and turmeric...

...and stir to combine. Add the potato and sesame seeds, stir again to combine, and remove from the heat. Let cool, then transfer to a container and refrigerate.

Go ahead and set out your lentils and cans of chickpeas, tomatoes, tomato purée, and vegetable broth so it’s all ready to go the next morning. If you don’t have canned broth, dissolve a veggie bouillon cube in 2 cups hot water, let cool, then refrigerate.

The morning of...
Mist the bowl of your slow cooker with cooking spray, or use a slow cooker liner for easy cleanup. Combine the vegetable mixture, chickpeas, lentils, tomatoes, tomato purée, and vegetable broth in the bowl. Cover and set to cook on low. If your slow cooker has settings like mine that allow you to select the number of hours you want, you can set it for either 8 or 10, depending on when you want to eat.

8-10 hours later...
When you get home from work (or get back from doing whatever you did all day), stir the yogurt into the stew. Cook on low for 15 more minutes as you reheat your rice. The yogurt adds just the slightest hint of creaminess.

Season with salt to taste, then ladle the stew into a bowl, top with a bit of rice, sprinkle with cilantro if you’ve got it, and serve.

The lentils dissolve almost completely, acting as a natural thickener. The tender chickpeas and potatoes play off each other perfectly against the mild sweetness of the tomato, and the sesame seeds add a nice, unexpected little crunch. It was hearty and filling—a delicious meal to come home to (and to eat for lunch all week).

Yield: 8 servings. Per serving: 311 calories, 7.4g fat (1.1g sat), 52.8g carbs, 9.2g fiber, 12.3g protein.

If you like this, you might also like...
Creamy chickpea soup
Three-bean vegan chili
White bean garlic soup

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