Doesn’t it feel like Monday today? Something about Columbus Day and my whole travel schedule has thrown me off. When my mom and I discussed what to make for dinner last night, she suggested going with the whole “Meatless Monday” idea we have been doing lately. I was really confused thinking it was Sunday (haha)…but in the end we decided to go with one of my favorite vegetarian dishes, this Red Lentil Stew with Caramelized Onions.
This meal has been a favorite in our house for a few years now. The lentils are filling and delicious, but it is the sweetness of the caramelized onions that really pulls the dish together. We like to serve ours over white Jasmine rice to really create a dinner out of it and since there are only 3 of us, we usually eat leftovers the next day for lunch (always a plus).
Red Lentil Stew with Caramelized Onions
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups small red lentils (picked over and rinsed)
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 to 3 cups boiling water
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For Caramelized Onions:
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 medium onions, halved through the root and thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 6 cups cooked white Jasmine rice
- Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- Plain or Greek yogurt
- In a large heavy saucepan (we used our Le Creuset), combine the oil, onion, bay leaves and cinnamon stick over moderately low heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, 4 to 5 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to moderately high, and add the ginger, garlic and cayenne. Cook, stirring until the garlic and ginger are soft, about 3 minutes.
- Add the lentils and cook, stirring, until they are coated with the oil, about 3 minutes. Add 2 cups of the broth and 2 cups of the boiling water and bring to a boil. Reduce the head and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Squeeze the juice of the lemon through a strainer into the lentils. Add the lemon halves, salt, and the remaining 1 cup broth. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the lentils have broken down into a thick puree, 40 minutes. They should be soupy; if they get too thick, add more boiling water as necessary, 1/4 cup at a time.
For Caramelized Onions:
- About 45-60 minutes before serving, prepare the caramelized onions. In a large nonstick skillet, combine the butter, oil, sugar and onions. Cook over low heat until the onions are browned and form a small pile (they will be very soft and have cooked down a lot). Stir the onions every 5 minutes to ensure all pieces are browning evenly. The process should take about 45-60 minutes (onions can be removed earlier, but will not be as sweet and caramelized). After cooking, season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Discard the lemon halves and cinnamon from the lentils and season with the salt and pepper to taste. Serve the lentils in bowls over white rice, topped with the caramelized onions, cilantro and yogurt.
Adapted from A New Way to Cook