Meatless Monday No. 3 - A Crock of Lentils
By Laurel Regan on October 07, 2013
After some unseasonably warm and rather muggy October weather, today really feels like autumn to me... and I love it! The change in the weather (nice), together with what seems like the onset of a cold (not so nice), combine to make today's slow cooker recipe for Meatless Monday a rather inspired choice... because isn't there something just so very comforting and fall-like about an afternoon in a cosy house, surrounded by the tantalizing aroma of a spicy dinner simmering in the crock pot?
I think so.
We received our slow cooker for a wedding gift some 14 years ago. It's a wonderful kitchen tool to have available - although we really haven't used it as much as we could/should have. It's funny - every time we do use it, we enthuse about how great it is, and how convenient, and how we should remember to bring it out more often - then it gets washed and put away in the depths of the cupboard and forgotten about for several months.
Poor crock pot!
(To be fair, Peter actually HAS been making use of it every couple of weeks in recent months, as he found a great method for slow-cooking a roast. But since this is a Meatless Monday post, let's just pretend I didn't say that, mm-kay?!)
So, on to today's Meatless Monday adventure!
Several readers have suggested lentils as a great and filling meat replacement, so I did a bit of searching and ended up selecting a delicious-sounding recipe from the Slender Kitchen site - Red Lentil, Curry, and Carrot Stew.
This recipe was easy, easy, easy. Sure, there's a bit of prep work involved - rinsing the lentils, dicing the carrots, grating the ginger, and chopping the onions... but honestly, what could be simpler than tossing a bunch of ingredients into the slow cooker, giving them a stir, and then heading to the couch for a nap?! Seriously, this is my kind of cooking.
I didn't stray too far from the recipe. I opted for vegetable broth over water, added 1.5 tsps of salt (which wasn't enough for Peter, as he immediately grabbed the salt shaker!), skipped the optional jalapeños, and completely eliminated the coriander. While I wish I had a more sophisticated palate and was able to appreciate the dreaded coriander/cilantro - particularly since it shows up darn near everywhere - I'm afraid I am only able to handle a little (VERY little) in a dish before it becomes overpowering and affects my enjoyment of the meal. I would certainly never choose to add the vile stuff to anything I was making!
I was a little disappointed in the consistency of the final product. Since I was expecting a stew, I made some brown basmati rice to accompany the meal. As it turned out, though, the recipe title was a little deceptive - at least based on my definition of a stew. Maybe I'm off-base, but I think that a stew should be thick enough that it could conceivably be served on a plate rather than in a bowl. This, however, was most definitely a soup. (I did notice that the writer referred to it as a soup elsewhere in the recipe, so perhaps that should have raised a red flag!)
We each had a gigantic bowl of it - half a cup of rice and two cups of soup - and still, there is plenty left for future meals. It'll be nice to have leftovers - that doesn't usually happen around here!
All in all, it was pretty good, and I would most likely make this dish again - with my own modifications. Next time I would add less ginger (maybe even half of what the recipe calls for), as although I do love ginger I felt that this was just a tad too gingery for my taste. I would also experiment with using a little less liquid so as to make it a bit more stew-like.
Peter said after dinner that he hoped I would continue with this whole Meatless Monday thing. I'm not sure if he said that because he's enjoying my cooking, or because he's enjoying the fact that someone else is doing the cooking, or maybe a little bit of both - regardless, I'm going to take it as a sign of success and carry on!
Are you a fan of the slow cooker?
What is your favourite slow cooker or lentil recipe?
(Original post in Alphabet Salad.)
~ Laurel Regan (pen name Dawn Storey) @ Dawn Storey Publications