We used to have some lovely neighbours from Iran who would occasionaly send over some amazing home cooked meals for us. One which stood out for me was a lentil stew seasoned with mint. It was just delicious and with fresh crusty rolls from our local bakery, we would scrape our bowls clean.
I had long forgotten about it, until one day a friend posted a picture of something similar on Facebook! Needless to say, the memories of this yummy dish came flooding back and I began my search for a recipe. This one has been adapted from Bon Appetit which posted it back in 1995 – I have made this for a few years now!! And truly it is one of my favourite comfort foods. It is very simply seasoned but is still flavourful, warming and comforting. I also love the smell of the fried garlic when you start the dish off. It has had many compliments from those who have tried it and it really is one of those dishes you can make when you come home and realise you have very little with which to make a meal and little time.
- 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 4 large Garlic Cloves, chopped
- 2 1/2 pints (6 cups) of vegetable stock
- 400g (2 cups) French Green Lentils, cleaned and drained (sometimes just sold as ‘lentils’, they have a green tortoise-shell colouring and keep their shape when cooked.)
- 480g Potatoes (about 2 medium), red skinned or another firm potato good for boiling.
- 2 Lemons
- 340g Fresh Spinach (you can always substitute frozen here, which I do often)
- 1/4-1/2 tsp Cayenne powder
- 1 Tbsp dried Mint
- 1/2 cup (1 large packet of fresh mint) Fresh Mint, chopped (I also keep some mint in the freezer which works well)
In a large saucepan, heat the oil and add the chopped garlic. Once it starts to brown give it a stir and add the lentils and the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. Meanwhile chop the potatoes into 1cm cubes, set aside.
Remove the lid from the lentils and give the dish a stir. Mix in the potatoes and continue to simmer with the lid removed for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Zest the lemons and juice them, you should have about 4 Tbsp of juice. Add these along with the cayenne (I prefer less heat with my stew, so feel free to adjust to your taste) and spinach. Stir through and cover with the lid for a couple of minutes to allow the spinach to wilt. Then add the mint and season with salt and pepper.
Serve in large soup bowls with a chunky salad of tomatoes and cucumber and some crusty bread.
This recipe will keep for a couple of days in the fridge in an airtight container.