Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rosemary Lentil Stew with Goat Cheese and Sun Dried Tomatoes

This has always been "that dish" - the one people asked about when I ate it. 

A few years ago while working at a yoga studio, a teacher came in eating this from a thermos.  The smell was so enticing I asked what it was. He told me, but then allowed me to try a sample.  SO good!

This is one of those meals that are perfect in the winter time.  They're hearty and pretty easy to make.  Plus, they make a few servings.  In my case, that's lunch for a week.  That makes my life easier. 

Something else that makes this dish even easier to make is using a slow cooker.  Just dump everything in, set to cook for 6 or so hours, come back later and you have dinner waiting for you.  I love the idea of slow cooking.  It allows the flavors to really come together.  And since it's made slowly, it's made with more love (I think so anyway :)

The yoga teacher gave me the recipe, but of course I ended up altering it.

Here's my version of Rosemary Lentil Stew with Goat Cheese and Sun Dried Tomatoes


1 lb lentils
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
(2 celery ribs with leaves, finely diced - optional)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 (14 1/2 oz) can recipe-ready diced tomatoes with their juices
3-4 c. vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced or 1 tsp dried, crumbled plus a whole sprig of fresh rosemary or parsley for garnish
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 or 2 smoked ham hocks (optional)
8 sun-dried tomato halves, cut into 1/4-in. pieces or 1/3 c. dried tomato bits
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz. fresh white goat cheese, cut into bits
Freshly ground pepper


Rinse lentils in a colander and pick over to remove any grit. Set aside.

In a large saucepan or flameproof casserole, heat the olive oil over moderate heat. Add the onions, cover and cook 2 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are golden and beginning to brown around the edges, 5-7 minutes . Add the garlic and cook about 3 minutes longer.

Add the onions and garlic to the slow cooker.  Stir in the carrots and lentils. Add the tomatoes with their juices, the stock, rosemary, bay leaf, cayenne and sundried tomatoes. Set to cook slow for about 6 hours.  You can also choose a quicker setting and let it go for 2-4 hours.

Once cooked, remove and discard the bay leaf. Stir in the goat cheese (it should remain in little clumps). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at once or set aside at room temperature for up to 2 hours. 6 to 8 servings.


As I've said, this dish is simply delicious.  The original recipe called for the addition of a ham hock but clearly I left that out.  Ick.  It tastes wonderful without it.  I also don't use celery (because I don't like it), but feel free to add it in.  Over time I played around with different amounts of goat cheese.  This last time I used the 4oz.  But in the past I've used twice the amount for the extra rich flavor.

Also, I didn't use the canned tomatoes.  I used fresh ones instead.  I pierced the skins, blanched them for a few seconds and ran them under cold water to remove the skins.  Then I placed them in a food processor to chop and put that in the stew.  However, I do add a 4.5 oz can of tomato paste.  Again, I like the rich flavor it adds while thickening it up :)

One more thing... I like to use Trader Joe's steamed lentils.  Frankly, it's no different than getting the dried lentils, but I still feel compelled to soak the lentils (even though you really don't have to here).  And anyway, I like the steamed lentils.

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