Lentil & Chorizo Stew (Spanish Pork and Beans)

A little before my second daughter was born, my husband and I enjoyed a night out, dining at a local bistro. The menu is a French-Mediterranean fusion, serving up a delicious arrangement of dishes that often feature less popular, more unique ingredients. It’s one of those restaurants that we really enjoy eating at, because there is always some new dish or technique that we then try to replicate at home.

One of the tapas that we loved was a plate of stewed lentils, served alongside crispy slices of chorizo with thin slices of garlic. It was savory, warm, and we cleared the plate all the way down to mopping up the broth with bread. It was simple, but a new idea for cooking lentils – one of my all time favorite foods – and I knew I would have to try and make this at home.

After some quick research to help select the best Spanish-inspired spices for my dish, I played around in the kitchen a few times, and finally came up with this recipe. Each time I cooked it, I naturally progressed from the fancier, restaurant-matching presentation, to that one-pot cooking style I love so much (it’s just so much easier!).

This recipe is perfect for those cold days ahead, a warm, stick-to-your-ribs type meal that leaves you full and happy. Since the bulk of your protein and calories is plant-based,  that wonderfully full feeling comes without the nap-inducing effect that can accompany a meat-heavy dish.

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup of brown lentils

1 white onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 medium carrots, diced

2 chorizo sausage links (4″)

2 bay leaves

1 bunch of collard greens

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

Salt & pepper, to taste

Olive oil

Directions:
1) Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or other large pan (one that has a lid). Add the onion and garlic, sauté until onions are translucent. Add smoked paprika, cook about one minute more, then add 1-cup of water. Mix well, then remove from pot and pour in blender. Blend to a paste and set aside.

2) In same pan, add a little more olive oil, cook thinly sliced chorizo until crispy, remove and set aside. Add carrots and cook until starting to soften. Add lentils, bay leaves, chopped collard greens, 3 cups of water and the paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer 45-minutes.

3) Add cooked chorizo, salt and pepper to taste and 1tsp. Smoked paprika if desired (this will increase the smoke and heat, so leave out otherwise.) Serve immediately with toasted ciabatta bread.

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